Be Mindful Over the Words You Speak 

Sticks and stones can break my bones and words can either hurt or help me along my life’s journey. Be mindful over the words you use. Your words have the power to either negatively impact your own and others’ emotional, spiritual and/or physical well being or plant positive seeds of hope, strength and growth.

Do you believe words are energy? Do you believe words can either be helpful, hurtful or neutral? Do you choose your words carefully? Do your words (self talk or otherwise) inspire, motivate and energize? The words spoken over us can be extremely powerful.

During my younger days, I was conditioned to believe that my province (Newfoundland and Labrador) was the “have not” province of Canada.  This was the message my young impressionable mind was constantly being exposed to by journalists via television, radio or print. Sadly, I would often hear fellow Newfoundlanders share in this sentiment as if it was one major truth. Talk about planting seeds of darkness over young impressionable minds!

As a young woman I became somewhat ashamed of this beautiful place which I have grown to love and feel blessed to call home.  My shame was the result of negative often embellished messaging focused on what was wrong with our people, our economy, our systems, industries and communities not what was right. It was as if shaming, blaming and defaming was ok some how.

Rarely did we hear talk about the beauty and unique spirit of this place or the inherent strengths of our people – resilient, kind, compassionate, peacekeepers, creative, fun, friendly to name but a few. The bounty of good news stories that culminate into one fine legacy were often not shared, were overlooked, reduced to soundbites or quickly skimmed over. How many times did we witness national news events that covered British Columbia to Nova Scotia; nothing about Newfoundland and Labrador? In more recent years it became clear that we needed to stand tall and begin telling our unique, inspirational stories as they must not be left to happenstance.

As a young woman, I recall taking my first trip to Ottawa (the capital city of Canada) to visit a good friend.  During this trip, I was introduced to a large number of folks. Upon introduction, these folks proudly stated who they were, where they hailed from and what they were doing with their lives.  They were Doctors, Engineers, PhD candidates, professionals. I was impressed! Their high level of self-confidence simply oozed out of them. I recall my thoughts at the time revolved around the fact that they grew up in provinces that were labelled as being “the have” provinces of Upper Canada, the wealthy provinces – this was their conditioning – not mine.

A Teaching Moment

The comments/questions that were directed my way that sunny day as we sat alongside the beautiful Rideau Canal left a lasting impact upon my life. “So when you hear journalists report that Newfoundland is the Ethiopia of Canada, what do you think?”  “So how do you feel about the rest of Canada footing the bill for all of your unemployed fishermen who stay at home, get paid and who don’t work for the best part of the year?”

Throughout my formative years I remember watching the evening news and documentaries with my parents, reading The Evening Telegram, The Globe and Mail and Maclean’s magazine.  We often chatted about how journalists seemed to focus on the problems facing Newfoundland and Labrador and how the “have not” mantra was wearing rather thin. Seemed upper Canada knew little about our people and province and the resources we brought into Canada. It became clear to me that day that the rich history of Newfoundland and Labrador was yet to be told accurately and shared widely.

Love this place I call home. – Daphne MacNeil

Back to that day in Ottawa, the day I mark as being the first day my introverted self pulled herself up by her bootstraps to defend her dearly loved homeland. I brought attention to the legacy of our people and how they have been recognized internationally for being hardworking, compassionate and wise. I spoke about the abundance of resources which Newfoundland and Labrador brought into confederation. I shared how Canada received a bounty of natural resources and how the lucrative Churchill Falls was generating energy and big profits for Quebec. We were rich in iron ore and other mineral deposits. It is the people who are our most precious resource. Newfoundlanders are known for operating from their hearts, for being humble and strong. They would rather operate under the radar than step out into the spotlight.

I asked if they ever heard of how our people have been known to offer their services whenever a crisis occurred at home (USS Truxton and USS Pollux – St. Lawrence; the remarkable story of Lanier Phillips) or in far away places (The Trail of the Caribou).

Heroism is a matter of choice, and you chose to come to our rescue, solely and purely out of love.” survivor Hank Strauss (Commentary on reunion of survivors and rescuers at St. Lawrence in 1988).

I suggested they learn about the story of Beaumont Hamel and how the Royal Newfoundland Regiment and our people have been recognized for reaching out to help people and countries through extremely dark times at a high cost to our people and ultimately our sovereignty. I asked if they knew how Newfoundlanders moved to big cities like Toronto, New York City and Boston using their transferable skills and abilities to build some of the largest skyscrapers at the time.

How I ended my conversation that day? it went something like this, “Over the years I have heard many people state that if Japan took ownership of the Dominion of Newfoundland and acquired its bounty of natural resources, it most likely would have turned it into “a have” country without too much difficulty.” I know little about Japan and am not qualified to elaborate further on this point of view.  I do, however, understand most countries need a steady supply of natural resources in order to grow their economy and Japan appears to be doing a pretty good job in this area.

What we are conditioned to believe (‘have’ versus ‘have not’) influences our thoughts, emotions and the our life’s trajectory. Wisdom is one fine teacher and as the facts and truths are revealed to us, we awaken to how limiting labels, conditioning, thoughts, habits and beliefs trigger responses that will either restrict us or cause us to evolve. We get to choose whether to remain stuck in the problems of the past or to focus on creating solutions for a brighter future.

Newfoundland Labrador’s economy has once again weakened largely due to the steady decline in oil prices and the incline in the cost of mega projects. Yet our spirit remains united, strong and we are ‘free’ to make wise choices. Thankfully we can eliminate the ‘have not’ label as we go about developing positive attitudes. We ‘have’ creative and innovative mindsets. We ‘have’ dedicated and energized local business communities (Boards of Trade, Chambers of Commerce, Newfoundland and Labrador Organization for Women Entrepreneurs, Hospitality Newfoundland and Labrador, the Genesis Centre at MUN, etc.).

We Have the Power to Create Positive Change

We ‘have’ people who possess strength of character in our communities and organizations who ask “what can we do for our province, country, the planet and its people?”  Innovate, create, motivate, facilitate, mediate, negotiate, collaborate and participate is what we have always done. We ‘have’ resources and are resourceful. We ‘have’ been and will continue to learn from past lessons. Committing and focusing our energy and efforts on solutions. We are growing strong conscious leaders, committed peacemakers. How does it get better than that?

“The words you speak become the house you live in.” Hafiz. Be mindful, may we choose our words carefully. Newfoundland and Labrador is open for business. We ‘have’ what it takes! I end with a quote worthy of some reflection.

The more man meditates upon good thoughts, the better will be his world and the world at large. Confucius

© Daphne MacNeil 2016

#InspireMe #Leadership #NewfoundlandLabrador

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