How to Learn a Healthy Way to Speak

By Emily Fletke

Photo by Joanie Simon

Photo by Joanie Simon

We were designed to speak words of life that build up others, bring healing, and offer encouragement. In other words, our goal is to speak health-giving words.  

Wholesome words can speak deep encouragement and worth into people and ultimately change both our own destiny and the destiny of others.

When I feel the impetus to deliver harsh or ugly words, I focus my attention on God. I tell him what’s going on, get honest about pain, and ask him to comfort me. He woos me away from using words as weapons, and speaks tender health-giving words of life into me, which I am then able to pass onto other people.

I’m not saying I get this right every time. I certainly have my fair share of word vomit and destructive declarations. But, what I do know is God helps me speak words of life to myself and to others.

GOD’S WORDS ARE WORTH KNOWING

God’s words, because they are perfect, are excellent material to know and use for proactively speaking blessings.

The words of the Lord are FLAWLESS, like silver purified in a crucible, like gold refined seven times.

God’s words call us to a higher standard for our own words: to use them for blessing not cursing, for speaking life not death, for encouraging not discouraging, for building up not tearing down.

Choosing health-giving words meant making some changes and choosing to actively tame my tongue.

When I started to intentionally watch my words, I essentially learned an entirely new dialect and adopted a new way of speaking about myself, others, and life in general. “This sucks” was a “go-to” for me. “Today is going to be amazing!” felt more difficult. Word vomiting came easily and being slow to speak was a definite learning curve.

CHOOSING TO CHANGE OUR UNHEALTHY WORDS

This is what the change looks like:

— Refraining from speaking at times when I really want to say something nasty. Cursing others doesn’t remove our pain; it only adds to it.  

— Choosing to speak kind words about a person, even when I feel the total opposite about them. I believe this is different from being fake.

— Refusing to simmer on ugly thoughts about people who have hurt me. That only makes it easier for nasty words to come out later at inconvenient moments.

— Actively speaking positively about people who have hurt me. Even if it means finding one small thing about them I like — their hair, for example.

— Refusing to curse myself. And when I am able to catch myself, stopping to speak blessing out loud over myself instead: “I’m smart!”  “I have a great body!” “I have a future!”

— Catching myself and bringing to a halt complaints about life’s circumstances. Instead, I think of something I am grateful for, even if it is just one thing like “I got to take a walk outside today!” or “I am grateful I had a hot shower today!”

How about for you? From the list above, choose one way you can change your own word vomit into healthy speech.