Choose Your Words Carefully

Disney’s animated features have long been known to teach important life lessons to children, from the consequences of jealousy and hatred by the Evil Queen in “Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs,” to learning the value of humility over arrogance like Lightning McQueen did in “Cars,” and the true value of friendship as shown in the “Toy Story” series. And like all good children’s tales, most adults would benefit from revisiting these life lessons, from time to time.

One lesson in particular has never lost its timeliness, and perhaps applies more today than when it was first uttered on-screen in 1942. After being reprimanded by his mother, for laughing at the ungainly newborn Bambi, an embarrassed Thumper repeats what he had heard from his father just that morning: “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all.”

Wise words used to teach our children how to play nicely in the sandbox with each other, with widespread application to the entire world today. Keep in mind that we humans are picture-oriented, and with newspapers and online sites publishing negative headlines in the largest font they can find, abusive “trolls” on social media sites, not to mention the proliferation of “false news” sites, it is no wonder that our minds see only the negative pictures.

It is also no wonder that depression has been steadily on the rise, nearly everywhere. In a recent column in The Seattle Times, columnist Gene Balk (the FYI Guy) related results of a survey by the U.S. Census Bureau compiled in the middle week of November 2020, for the top 15 cities in the U.S. The survey asked if the respondents had experienced depression that week. Several cities in the top 15 neared 50% of respondents replying “yes.” Imagine the pictures playing in their minds.

Perhaps it is time to stop and choose our words more carefully. Perhaps it is time to hit our mental “Pause” button, before sending that negative email, text or post. Maybe, we need to give ourselves time to let the emotion of the moment subside, put the negative texts in our mental Draft Box and come back to them at a later time, when we have analyzed why we felt the need to write them.

And maybe, just maybe, we need to rinse our comments through “Thumper’s Law” (see above).
Are our words helping or hurting? Are they constructive or destructive? Do they support a positive change or get fractured in the heat of the moment? Only you can answer these questions.