52 things I know about words (and you should too): #3 Words Linger

Words linger.

I suppose I might have long known this, but I had never thought about it much until I got this message on Twitter:

@itsleisa Words have the power to give encouragement long after the writer has forgotten them and I thank you for that. ~ @Ultralucky

Unknown

Wow. Wow because I don’t know @Ultralucky, and until I got the message, hadn’t been following him on Twitter. Still, somehow he’d been moved to send me that message. I blog about the power of words to shape our lives. I can only guess it was something I’d said on my blog, in a tweet or something.

In any event, it got me thinking of recent words that have lingered for me. Other messages of appreciation and gratitude that I’ve randomly received, from friends, and few folks I didn’t even really know.

Forgotten

Like this Facebook message a few weeks back from a woman who had participated in a workshop that I helped facilitate:

I have a memory of you….
I’m not sure if you remember me, but I wanted to share this with you.

So, I’m in the workshop, and you are coaching people that are having a hard time creating a declaration for thier future.

I am “done” with mine and you invite me to help coach a classmate. He’s crying about the past and unwilling to declare himself–and I want to hug him and tell him it’s okay, poor baby, etc… He explains where the pain is coming from all while crying–

And you say to him–“I got all that, but what’s the drama about?”
I was shocked at your “coldness” and your ability to be so direct. My eyes were wide and I just stared at you for what felt like way too long.

I watched the guy (I don’t remember his name) stop crying, get over it, walk on stage, declare his future, and move on.

By the end of Sunday night of the workshop, I “got it” for myself. I remembered what life was like before I started feeling sorry for myself. And then began living that again.

I’ve always given the course leader the credit for me moving to a new level in my life–but when I saw your face on here today–I remembered what happened.

I moved myself–by watching you stand for someone.
You make me proud to be a woman!

Yep, that one made me cry. Having facilitated a myriad of workshops, I have no memory of that interaction. But but there it was – my words had lingered in a big way.

Old friend

Then, a while back man I haven’t seen in years, but am connected with on Facebook said how much he enjoyed my Facebook posts and called me an “accessible goddess” – I’ve never dared think of myself as goddess-like, but if I am for him – I’ll accept the mantle with pleasure.

Renewed friend

And I learned I was quotable in a conversation with a sweet friend who had just moved back into town. We were sharing and chatting like crazy to catch up on the last two years, I started talking about the things I am passionate about, and what is lighting me up these days, when she said

“Stop. Wait. Get me a pen and some paper, I want to take notes.”

Yes, I hesitated a bit in sharing these anecdotes. I’m desperately afraid of sounding pompous, when in fact I am deeply humbled and honored by these acknowledgments.

You are lingering

I share because I know you have your own version of these moments. And I share mine to make the point – words linger. And you don’t know who’s listening. And you don’t know what will linger, or with whom, nor for how long.

This has always been true, but in our digital age, even more so. Now, rather than our words lingering in our family or immediate community, they linger globally. Immediately accessible, searchable, save-able and shareable, by millions, if not billions of people.

Where once I might have been blissfully unconscious of the reach and impact of my words, this realization has gotten me very interested in paying close attention to both who I am talking to, and what I am saying.

I now speak with an awakened curiosity of how, where and with whom my words might linger. Do you?

What about you?

What words have lingered with you?
What words do you want to leave lingering?

photo credit: Gregory Bastien

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15 Comments

Filed under 52 things

15 responses to “52 things I know about words (and you should too): #3 Words Linger

  1. Jill

    People say that the digital media has made it so everything we “say” is “forever”. Seems it has always been so – words do linger. I chose to leave positive words that linger.

  2. Words are extremely powerful, I think because they can evoke such powerful memories and feelings.

    I can’t hear ‘fortuitous’ without remembering a particular soccer match, and the wild emotion swings that went with it, just because the coach used it at half-time and I’d never heard it before.

    As a tutor, I need to do more work to make sure my ideas and words stick and become memorable.

  3. Words linger. They do, and just like your example sometimes I have no idea what I said that had an impact. Like you, I also heard from an acquaintance recently that something I’d said months ago had a great enough impact that she had made changes in her life. Over here? No memory of what that might have been.

    I can already sense the pitfall that might show up pondering this: being cautious or analytical with my speaking. But I also know the word ‘trust’ is a word that’s been lingering in my own life, and I think I’ll go there instead.

  4. Wow Leisa, what a thought provoking post. It really made me stop and be conscious about how words have affected me, and how my words effect others.

    Words are so incredibly powerful and we let them flow so easily and sometimes thoughtlessly out of our mouths, from our pens, and through our finger tips onto the keyboard.

    Words linger. We should choose our legacy well.

    Not that we need to hesitate and over-think everything we say, but we do need to be mindful that our words spring from our best selves and intentions, rather than from the shadow side.

  5. I like this mulling over words that have lingered in my life – I could probably write for days. One word pops in as I read this and is “Courage.” Ages ago, in a now defunct and inspiring magazine, I read an article about being courageous, about visualizing yourself as brave (despite one’s fears) and then trusting that when the time came, you truly would be courageous. Later in my life I clung to that word like a lifeline, one foot in front of the other, when just getting out of bed and breathing were courageous acts.

    And now… I’ve come to realize that I don’t have to define my life by the word “courage.” I can now allow “Joy” to linger until I’m so easy with it I’ll ask another word to come in.

    As for words that have lingered from other’s wisdom – as I said, I could write for days…

  6. One of my personal mantras has long been “Words are powerful things. Be careful how you use them.” As a writer and creative director, your post really resonated with me. In a business where ideas, creative thoughts and people’s dreams tend to get chewed up and spat out, my words can mean the difference between a young designer, art director or copywriter becoming jaded and bitter or remaining hopeful and open and collaborative. Thanks for the reminder.

  7. Words are powerful little things, aren’t they? I love how you have captured their impact. All I can hope is that those I have let loose upon the world so far are traveling wisely. From now on, before I speak or write, I will be listening to a little refrain in my head … words linger. Thank you.

  8. I love words. Every so often I dedicate posts on my blog to new words, old words, obscure words. There is so much that can be said and done with words.

    Really, I love how they can turn the ordinary into an extraordinary tapestry of sight and sound. Don’t care sometimes if it sounds ridiculous or extremes.

    Words are relationships.

  9. “Where once I might have been blissfully unconscious of the reach and impact of my words, this realization has gotten me very interested in paying close attention to both who I am talking to, and what I am saying.”

    I really like what you are saying here. Lately I was thinking that I was glad it was not so accessible, searchable, saveable and shareable when I was younger. That I live in this digital age when I am more conscious of what I am saying.

    • itsleisa

      Thanks, Anne. I think I am really happy that we didn’t get into this digital age full on until I was in my 40’s. Now I feel much more equipped to say what is true for me without the need to over-edit, or worry that someday I will “wish I hadn’t said that.” Having a digital record of my thoughts and unsolicited opinions from my teens and 20’s? Scary thought.

  10. Lovely post!
    … saying hello from Deva coaching

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