The Power of Language.

Tuesday June 21, 2016

A couple of years ago my son was deeply stuck in the mire, triggered by his then wife kicking him out of the family home. He was rejected and cut off from his three small children. Without sufficient funds to home himself as well as providing maintenance for his kids he had no choice but to move back in with us, his parents.

He was heart broken and devastated. His world had crumbled around him and he saw no reason for living.

Somehow he managed to keep going to work each day and, initially, I would greet him on his daily return with the standard "How was your day?" enquiry. Not surprisingly my enquiries were met with "awful" or something similar, depending on just how ghastly he felt that day.

After a few days I understood my mistake. I was attempting to reach out to him from a place of safety, from a place of 'normality'. There were no such things for my son at that time and my silly question was serving no purpose other than to remind him of the awful mire that he was stuck in.

At that time I read something about the power of language and how critical the way we phrase things can be, and it made me completely rethink my innocent question. So the following day, as he returned from work, I greeted him with "So, what was the least awful thing that happened to you today?". He stopped in utter surprise and looked at me...

"Umm... the Least awful?"
"Yes" I replied "The Least awful"
"Oh... well, I suppose I did manage to finish that job my boss has been plaguing me about for the last 2 weeks, I guess that's something"
"Yes" I said "That's definitely something, it might even be better than just something"
and there was a hint of a smile.

After that it became a habit. Gradually he was looking for the positives in his day without even realising. You see he wouldn't allow himself to be positive at that time. In his eyes there couldn't possibly be anything to be positive about. But this 'least awful' thing was something he could see as possible.

And the 'least awfuls' slowly grew. He would even sometimes smile as I asked the question, almost as if he could see some humour in my distorted question.

Then one day we had: "Well that pretty girl was there at lunch again today and she smiled at me - she's got a great smile" and then I knew we were safe.

He had at last found the courage to really notice the world around him, to look past the mire, to see other people and even to enjoy their presence a little. Without really realising it he had found that the mire wasn't so totally dark after all... not quite a silver lining, but just not so very very dark.

I wanted to share this story because I wondered whether, if someone here is stuck in the mire, they could find something today, however small, that they could call the 'least awful' thing for their day today, because those 'least awful's can grow, and then the dark can gradually become less dark... I've seen it.

A Moodscope member.

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