Hurtful words can steal joy, distort truth, and create long-term struggles with understanding your worth and purpose. In this powerful new book, counselor and life coach Janell Rardon, MA, equips you to address and reframe negative words and labels that have hurt you in order to achieve healing and lasting freedom. By understanding and embracing your God-created identity, you will develop a healthy sense of self and build a foundation for lasting, positive relationships. Using Scripture along with tested and proven techniques, you can exchange unhealthy beliefs and behaviors for a new, joy-filled life.
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About the Author
Janell Rardon, national and international speaker, author, and relationship expert, has a master's degree in Human Services Counseling/Marriage and Family Specialization. A board-certified Advanced Christian Life Coach (AACC), she is in private practice in Suffolk, Virginia. Janell and her husband have three grown children.
Read an Excerpt
Guard Your Heart
The Intention of Practice 1: I will overcome hurtful words by guarding my heart.
You've kept track of my every toss and turn through the sleepless nights, each tear entered in your ledger, each ache written in your book.
— Psalm 56:8 MSG
Broken hearts do not discriminate. They beat inside the young, the old, the rich, the poor. They are color-blind, impartial, have no geographic boundaries, and are very personal. Say the word broken-hearted, and thoughts typically turn to a failed romance, yet heartbreak often casts a wider net. When heartbreak happens because of hurtful words spoken by those we thought we could trust and those we hold closest to us, our hearts are crushed.
I thought they loved me.
I thought they had my back.
I thought I could trust them.
This crushing leaves heartrifts — deep, invisible wounds caused by hurtful words from close, trusted friends and family members. Left alone, heartrifts harbor within hearts for years, often lifetimes, and ultimately flow into families, communities, and churches — causing ever greater relationship rifts. Marriages fail. Families divide. Churches split. Governments implode.
A long time ago, the wise King Solomon said something very important about the heart. He wrote, "Above all else, guard your affections. For they influence everything else in your life" (Proverbs 4:23 TLB).
Above all else. No mincing of words here. These three little words indicate high priority status. Yet, we rarely take time out of our busy schedules to take care of our hearts. We might eat less red meat, exercise more, and drink plenty of water, but that isn't what King Solomon meant. He was talking about our emotional health and well-being — something we might rather push aside, sweep under the rug, or deal with later when we aren't so busy.
Experience the Power of a Heartlift
When given the time, energy, and attention they deserve, heartrifts slowly surrender to the power of a heartlift.
"Heartlift? What exactly is a heartlift, anyway?" you might ask.
You can look up heartlift in the dictionary, but you won't find a definition. It's an original thought, born through a great deal of prayer and life experience. Since founding my private coaching practice, I've walked alongside many women on their healing journeys. With great intention, I listen between the lines of my client's lives to hear the heartbeat of their stories. We talk about the current pain in their hearts. We look at their history of hurts. And together, we bring just enough of their past into the present so they can walk into the future with a whole and healed heart. I call this a heartlift.
Although I'd watched this approach lead to deep and meaningful breakthroughs for a long time, I'd struggled with what to call the process. Then, one spring afternoon while I was sitting in a hospital waiting room, a TIME magazine caught my eye. "Nip. Tuck. Or Else," read the cover story. One sentence in particular caught my attention: "In 2015 alone, women spent almost one billion dollars on facelifts."
Did I read that right? I read it again, and yes, I'd read correctly.
The statistic stunned me. Kept circling in my head. Then I read on. Writer Joel Stein noted, "You're going to have to do it. And not all that long from now. Probably not a full-on, general-anesthesia bone shaving or muscle slicing. But almost definitely some injections into your face. ... Not because you hate yourself, fear aging, or are vain. ... You're going to get a cosmetic procedure for the same reason you wear makeup: because every other woman is."
Because every other woman is? Am I reading this correctly?
Mr. Stein, I'm not one to debate, but I'd have to challenge your statements: "You are going to have to do it ... definitely some injections in your face."
In my practice, listening to women's hearts is my why, and watching and reading faces is my how. Our faces mirror our hearts. Nonverbal cues and microexpressions say it all. Science of People founder Vanessa Van Edwards agrees that "learning how to decode the face is like having a super power." I want that super power. Furrowed brows. Biting or pursing of the lips. Sad eyes. A twitch of the cheek. Chin pointed down. These microexpressions are "brief, involuntary facial expressions shown on the face of humans according to the emotions that are being experienced. Unlike regular, prolonged facial expressions, it is difficult to fake a microexpression."
I was explaining this to a client one day. "You're like a face whisperer," she said. "I can't hide anything from you."
"I'm a heartlifter," I reminded her. "The words we speak come straight out of our hearts. Luke 6:45 says, 'A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.' The way I see it, we're all just big walking hearts bumping into each other, aren't we? So I pay close attention, that's all. Hearts matter to me.
"Most importantly," I continued, "your heart matters to me. Describe how you feel when your heart lets go of something painful. Do you experience anything physical?"
"Definitely. It feels like ... psychological brightness." She smiled.
"That is a fabulous description. I've never heard that anywhere. I think you are on to a brand-new psychological term. Let's keep that psychological brightness on that beautiful face of yours!"
Facial expressions say way more than words. As my client discovered, when her heart experiences the release of painful, often embedded, memories or emotions, she experiences an actual "brightening." Not only is her face brighter, her entire being is lighter. Proverbs 15:13 affirms this finding: "A happy heart makes the face cheerful, but heartache crushes the spirit."
Experts agree: "When we make facial expressions, we're essentially transmitting a packet of information that can be received, read, and interpreted by others. By contracting or expanding our facial muscles in different degrees and combinations, we can produce thousands of different messages that provide cues to our overall emotional state, our short-term feelings about our immediate environment, our mental well-being, our personality and mood, our physical health, our credibility, and whether or not we view others as being creditable."
The bottom line is that absolutely everything in our lives comes back to the condition of our hearts.
Through the years, the pain women express has less to do with outer appearance and much to do with the deep pain and percolating discontent inside their hearts. Once the pain lifts, the entire countenance changes. They look and feel so much better. Psychological brightness!
And then I realized — what women most need is a heartlift, a facelift on the inside. When a woman's heart is welcomed into a safe place with a trusted person, it moves through the process of vocalizing crushing pain in a healthy manner that brings closure, emotional healing, and lasting freedom.
Right then and there, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life offering women the power of a heartlift. Real, lasting change — from the inside out.
The Unexpected Emotional Earthquake
If you are holding this book in your hands, you are holding a heart crushed by feuds in family lineage, surprised by the hurtful words and actions of others, disoriented by dysfunctional relationships, and shaken by a loss of faith in people I trusted. These slow-forming fissures began when I was very young, way before I even knew or understood heartbreak existed, until one day it was unmistakable. Heartrifts in deep need of healing had formed along the contours of my heart. Time takes a toll on the heart and, after a while, mine simply couldn't take any more. Boom — it broke into a million littlepieces. And if you're reading this book, you've probably experienced this too.
As a longtime resident of the East Coast, I am all too accustomed to nasty nor'easters, hair-raising hurricanes, and even the occasional tornado, but never in a million years would the residents of my state expect an earthquake in Virginia. Imagine my surprise, then, on an ordinary hot and humid August afternoon when all of a sudden, I heard and felt a very loud, very scary boom! The earth and everything beneath me started shaking. My hands gripped the chair I was sitting in. For a few seconds — though it felt like hours — my heart stopped.
What was that?
At first, I didn't know what was going on. Nothing fell off the walls, even though things were a bit crooked and disheveled. A little off-center myself, I closed the book I'd been reading and looked through the shades. Everything seemed normal. The sky was bright blue, and the sun was still shining.
Thoughts raced through my head. Should I run for cover? Did a bomb go off? Did something crash outside? We lived in an area with thriving shipyards and fortified naval bases, so this was a very real possibility.
Suddenly, the phone rang. My husband. "Did you feel that?" The panic in his voice matched the panic I felt inside. "Turn on the TV."
I wrestled with the morning paper on the couch, trying to find the remote. Is this really happening? I wondered.
"Oh! Rob, we had an earthquake," I said. "The newscasters are as stunned as we are. This is unbelievable. Are you okay?"
"Yeah, shaken up, that's all. How about you?"
We listened to the news together, recovering a sense of balance and strength from one another. Sure enough, the broadcasters confirmed that we'd had a 5.8 magnitude earthquake, right here in Virginia. The epicenter was about 150 miles northwest of our home. For months after this ordeal, community officials revisited the situation, offering ways to prepare in case it happens again. In fact, this seismic shaking is still talked about today.
Three Phases of a Heartlift
Our hearts, like the fault lines of the Virginia seismic zone, can reach a breaking point. Life suddenly becomes too much to bear. Unexpected, startling words or actions cause an emotional upheaval evidenced by shock, anger, despair, or worse, retaliation. When this happens, we must be prepared. The whirlwind of our whys cries out for immediate answers. Why is this happening to me? Why can't I get it right? Why is God doing this to me? Processing the whys becomes increasingly important to our healing journey.
My prayer for your heartlift journey is threefold: (1) that your current heartrift experiences will heal; (2) that you will be empowered and equipped, through the nine practices I outline in this book, to experience your very own heartlift; and (3) that your heartlift toolbox gains practical, effective, and spiritually mature tools to help both you and everyone in your sphere of influence to live their remarkable, God-created lives.
Overcoming Hurtful Words is divided into three sections, based on the three phases of the heartlift journey:
1. Reflect: Heartrift — what just happened? Welcome God into the whys of present pain.
2. Reframe: Heartsift — where did it come from? Face the fault lines of past hurts.
3. Reauthor: Heartlift — will I trust again? Live in newfound freedom in Christ.
Practice Makes Progress
Each section of this book contains three chapters that serve as guides along the way. They're born from my conversations with women who've experienced their own heartlifts. Instead of calling them chapters, we will call them practices, because Overcoming Hurtful Words invites us to begin practicing self-care and to exercise new behavior patterns and communication skills. I wish I could wave my nice-and-easy wand, but I'm afraid that isn't the reality of change. Change takes a great deal of practice.
For most of my life, I equated practice with perfection. I came by this mind-set honestly. As a six-year-old, I began baton twirling lessons. Before we could leave our weekly class session, the teacher insisted we complete a double turn. If I did two spins, I did a thousand. Over and over again, my little six-year-old frame stood ready and willing. You've got this. Throw, turn, drop. Repeat. Ugh! Every time I tried, that slippery silver stick fell to the ground. I couldn't figure out how to throw the baton in the air, spin on one foot, and catch the thing when I'd finished turning. But my teacher, Susan Cappeletto, Miss Majorette of America, assured me if I practiced harder, it would happen.
All these years later, however, my thoughts have changed. Life isn't about practicing harder or practicing until it's perfect; it's about practicing and making progress. All those hours of practicing double turns and twirling techniques did teach me this though: there is great value in the discipline of practice.
The world we live in feeds a perfectionist mind-set with its persistent, demanding messages of more, more, more and better, better, better. So, while we're on this heartlift journey, it will be important that we keep one truth in the forefront of our minds: practice isn't about perfection. It's all about progress — moving forward on a glorious journey of discovering and becoming the remarkable women God created us to be.
When we activate the nine practices presented in this book on a daily basis, they will become second nature. The old, unhealthy ways will slowly, certainly, and a bit magically transform into a new, healthy way of life (see 2 Corinthians 5:17). We practice everything else in the world — why not practice healthy behavior patterns and healthy communication skills? They are at the core of life. When we operate from a healthy foundation, the world is a better place.
At the end of each practice is a section called Heart Care, which will include exercises for the three phases of the heartlift. These exercises will help you move through your heartbreak to the wholeness you so desire.
Reflect: includes meditations taken from the wisdom of the book of Proverbs, teachings from Jesus, the Gospels, and letters written by Paul, particularly his letters to the Ephesians and Philippians. These sacred writings are filled with passionate teaching and wisdom about the inner workings of the heart and the complexities of human relationships. In this section, we'll use a traditional Benedictine practice called lectio divina (divine reading). This is a contemplative approach to reading Scripture that teaches us to read the passage slowly, savoring it word by word and placing ourselves within its context. We'll ask, "What here speaks to me? Is there a word, a thought, or perhaps a visual that I want to more deeply consider?" This exercise appeals to the senses and invites us to lean in and listen for the whispers of God. While lectio divina is traditionally done in a group of four to eight people, it is certainly applicable to individual meditation, as well.
Reframe: entails relevant, practical exercises for reframing unhealthy thoughts and patterns into healthy ones. This includes meditative exercises, Scripture reading, charts, and illustrations. This is time for practical application in your daily life; for making changes, implementing new skills, and establishing healthy principles.
Reauthor: involves creative journaling techniques and positive prompts for reauthoring the nine practices into a new narrative. During my master's course of study, professors presented and discussed many therapeutic and counseling methodologies. One in particular — narrative therapy — appealed to me because of my love for writing, personal narrative, and inner healing. Developed by Australian social workers Michael White and David Epston, narrative therapy believes that
As humans, we are interpreting beings. We all have daily experiences of events that we seek to make meaningful. The stories we have about our lives are created through linking certain events together in a particular sequence across a time period, and finding a way of explaining or making sense of them. A narrative is like a thread that weaves the events together, forming a story.
As you move through the threads that weave your heartrift narrative, you will reauthor it. You will write a new narrative by which you will live out your newfound freedom in Christ.
Finally, I must warn you. I am crazy about words and their meanings, so understanding the heart of a word is a big deal. As you read, pretend we are in a face-to-face coaching session, where we would peel a word like an apple until we get to the core. There, we'll find the seeds, the words within the word. Knowing the literal translation of a word provides inside information that can become a useful and empowering tool for reauthoring our stories.
The Great Heartlift Challenge
Our hearts won't heal if we don't offer them healing. We have a big part to play in making change happen. As a dear client of mine, Gina, says, "Nothing changes if nothing changes. It stays the same, which is really sad. Or, the saddest of all, it gets worse and robs us of living a meaningful life." She is so right.
Excerpted from "Overcoming Hurtful Words"
Copyright © 2017 Janell Rardon.
Excerpted by permission of Worthy Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction: How Do I Overcome Hurtful Words? 1
Part 1 Reflect Present Pain: Why Is This Happening?
Practice 1 Guard Your Heart 7
Practice 2 Welcome God into the Whys 27
Practice 3 Choose Healthy over Unhealthy 49
Part 2 Reframe Past Fault Lines: Where Is This Coming From?
Practice 4 Pray through and Stay with the Process 71
Practice 5 Collect Strength 93
Practice 6 Wait for the Peace that Passes All Understanding 111
Part 3 Reauthor Future Freedom: Will I Ever Trust Again?
Practice 7 Embrace a Teachable Spirit 135
Practice 8 Take the Leap and Trust Again 153
Practice 9 Smile at Your Future 175
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This book is such a powerful look at the impact of words and how to redefine ourselves through the lens of truth. I personally enjoyed it because: (1) the writing is vibrant and empowering, (2) the author is real and honest about her own struggles, (3) it draws from a solid Scriptural foundation, and (4) it offers practical life coaching tools that will empower you in every area of life. Whether you've been deeply wounded by words or not, this book is an inspiring and worthwhile read!