The Simple Power of One Word

The Simple Power of One Word

Has one word ever changed things around for you? 

Have you landed a job, gained happiness, improved the way you lived, enhanced your productivity all because of one single word?

You may not realise it, but that one word can pretty much define how you spend your day. If you haven’t guessed it already, that word is YES.

As a race, we thrive on acceptance and affirmation. Just look around you. You feel thrilled when a status update is ‘Liked’ on Facebook. You are suitably ecstatic if your achievement is recognised by your peers. You are over the moon when your book gets accepted by a publisher (yes, yes, I am practising the power of The Secret) 😉 !


The point is, there is nothing WRONG with this. Yes is a powerful word. It carries heavy associations of gladness, doing the right thing, encouragement and positive vibrations every time it is uttered under the right circumstances.

Why am I saying this, you ask?


Well, it hasn’t been a great month on the parenting front. Yes, I am being honest here. After 218 days, I broke my Yelling Less streak in early September. I flipped out, screamed, came this close to shaking her and let loose a choice set of angry words that were totally unwarranted. The reasons were ridiculous and petty, but I suspect the deeper, underlying reasons were many more. There was a general feeling of discontent in the way I was handling her emotions, compounded by the fact that I had a bad sprain in my shoulder/neck which left me virtually unable to write/blog for a long time. 

This unsettled me a good deal and I spent many nights tossing restlessly, worrying about how I was damaging her self-esteem beyond repair by constantly snapping at her for every little thing. This wasn’t helped by the fact that she ALWAYS ended the day with a hug and kiss, saying, ‘Amma, I love you so much.’

What triggered the decision

Recently, I was telling a friend that it annoyed me when Gy would not immediately respond if I asked her to do something. It was always the same response, ‘One minute more, Amma. I just have two pages left to read.’ It made me see red when she said that. The anger was bubbling up as I said, ‘Not later. NOW!’ This was inevitably followed by a sulky-faced child who would do the task, but with mutiny in her eyes.

When I was cooler, it hit me. She was doing two things that mirrored my being.

One, she was so engrossed in the book that tearing her away from it was plain torture- for her. Why, I was exactly like that, growing up! Why would the genes be any different?

Two, that was usually my response when she asked me a question, ‘Give me a minute, while I finish my work here.’

We know that kids learn by observation. We acknowledge that we should lead by example. That’s when the decision took shape. What I needed to do was clearer now.

What did I do?

This morning, I woke up with a resolution. It was a simple one. I decided I would say ‘YES’.

As easy as that sounds, you have no idea how hard it is to practise for someone who is, in essence, a bit of a control freak. I wasn’t like this. I don’t think so, at least. But, parenting brings out some harsh truths about oneself.

So, to make it simple, I just told myself that my first knee-jerk response to her queries or her need to read a bit longer would not be a snappy ‘NO!’ Instead, I would pause and say, ‘Okay, no problem. Five more minutes is okay.’

Almost magically, all her tasks today happened smoothly- her eating, her getting dressed, her homework (!), why, even her TV time limitation! Plus, she helped out with cleaning up around the house. 

The fortunate fallout of this was manifold! 

One: She was happier today than she has been in the last month. 

Two: I had a song in my heart and a spring in my step. Even my friends online noticed that I was chirpier and cheerier than usual and were worried about my mental health 😉

Three: I found little things to be happy about, like this incredible sight of two tiny butterflies perched on top of the plant outside my building!


Today was a wonderful day. I know it may not last all the time. But, I am sure going to give it a go, to ensure that my days are happier and my peace of mind more regulated.

All it takes is One Simple Word. Such a delight, don’t you agree?

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0 thoughts on “The Simple Power of One Word

  1. This is a simple, but powerful illustration of the Golden Rule: “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.” Parents sometimes forget that children are individuals. We tend to forget that about people like domestic help as well.

  2. Wonderful post, Shailaja. I really appreciate the deeper insight you share here about human psychology. It is absolutely true, I feel, that the little habits/imperfections/behaviour patterns in others that annoy us are actually the projection of what is there in us too. This is true of anyone, whether it is our child, sibling, parent, friend, partner, whosoever. Thanks for writing this post, so candidly and sincerely. Hugs.

  3. Thanks for reading, Rachna. It really is incredible the sea-change that was wrought because of one word. Even today, I am being rewarded with extra hugs and kisses, thanks to this one simple rule 🙂

  4. Absolutely right. In our home, we teach the child that everyone deserves respect, right from peers to elders and even those younger than us. Station in society means nothing if you cannot respect people for who they truly are. Thanks for the comment, Pro.

  5. It is the second time today that I read/heard about the power of positive thinking..and The Secret. I think someone up there is giving me some signs that I so need to follow in order to make my life better.
    Thank you, Shailaka, for this post! Very insightful! And, very helpful, too!

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