When my children were young I found myself responding to some behaviors by saying things like, “I love you, but you have to put that away now” or “I love you, but it is not okay to behave that way.” At some point I realized that I was uncomfortable saying, “I love you, but…” I felt that saying ‘but’ after ‘I love you’ made the ‘I love you’ mean an awful lot less. It took conscious work to change my wording and either simply separate the ‘I love you’ and the rest of the idea or saying “I love you, and it is not okay to behave that way.”
I was reminded of this today when I saw something a friend posted on social media:
The language we use matters because it says a lot. Sometimes we don’t even realize the depth of what we’re saying. When someone takes the time to point out to us what they hear us saying, we should listen and reflect. Just because our intentions are good doesn’t mean our words (or actions, for that matter) are as well. And our intentions are irrelevant when our language (and our actions) is harming others.