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How Much Do Words Matter?

We ask the question “How much do words matter?” And hear from a published author about her journey in deciding to share positive words through her children’s book and later hear from a Clinical Psychologist about the neuroscience behind how words we hear, read, and even say really matter and why our words are so powerful.


How Much Do Words Matter?

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Lois Paula: Whether you’re hoping to heal the world or heal yourself, this podcast is here for you to highlight how kindness moves.

Nan: Yes, how kindness moves you to take action, you yourself, or just makes you feel something so good it’s contagious. You might have been touched by a simple act of kindness, you might want tips on how you can act now in your community, or you just love the feeling of doing good.

Lois Paula: Welcome to Kindness Moves, the podcast brought to you by INC Media. We’re your hosts, LP and Nan.

Nan : Right. Well LP, I’m really excited because we have another special episode today and the topic for today is we’re talking about words. You know from childhood, many of us are taught to speak politely. You know, for example, we say, we’re taught to say “Thank you” say “Please” or you know, ask someone “How are you.?” In general, we’re taught to use kind words and avoid the bad ones, right? But it’s something that becomes kind of second nature. So when we look back at our childhood and, and we think about the words that were spoken to us; maybe the words that we read or even heard, how, how much of an impact did that really make?

Lois Paula: Right. It’s major. Words have an impact. Whether it’s something that we say, whether it’s something that we write, wherever we publish it, wherever we put it out–words have an impact. And you mentioned the words we read and I think we don’t realize, a lot of us, that that’s another avenue for us to receive words right?  Some of us are visual and so that reinforces what we’re ah listening to right? We see it so that it reinforces what we’re hearing, so to say, we read it. But you know when we think about it, ah, even from our earliest days of childhood until now–the words that were spoken to us, the words that we have read or the words that we ourselves have said, they all have shaped who we are and our experiences. They’ve all impacted one another.

Nan : Right. I totally agree and, you know, that entire spectrum of words, you know, good and bad and everything in between has had such an impact you know? And, and that’s why I can’t wait to jump in today’s conversation. You know, not only do we have an interesting topic as I mentioned earlier, we also have some great guests joining us today. Ah, so first we meet an author who has published a children’s book entitled Mr. Awesome Great Day and she currently has another one in the works. So please welcome Rachelle De Dios.

Rachelle: Hi 

Nan: Hi Rachelle.

Lois Paula: You like going by Rach right? 

Rachelle: Yeah, most of my friends call me that and you guys are my friends and everyone listening so.

Lois Paula: Hi Rach. Thanks so much for joining us today. And I think you are our first guest on Kindness Moves who has actually had a book published. Congratulations to you, that’s extremely amazing. You know it’s such a great accomplishment just in itself. Um, and I’d love, we’d love to know–how did this all start? So can you tell us a little bit just about your journey from um, you know, childhood up until now, you’re a published author. How did this all start?

Rachelle: Awesome. Ah, thank you so much for having me and thank you for the kind words. Um, yeah to be honest with you guys I never thought I would create a book, write a book. That was never in the cards for me. But I think the whole, you know, story that I created, and I made, I didn’t realize how much it meant to me and when I started to see my story kind of unfold in my life with, you know, some things that I felt about growing up and how I really wanted attributes to be known more than our titles or attributes to be over our work occupations.I wonder if anyone feels the same because I feel like they might. I feel like there’s a lot of pressure to, you know–what do you want to be when you grow up? And there’s a lot of pressure to be a doctor or an engineer or a nurse, and those are all wonderful occupations. But we don’t really talk about the kind of person we want to be, you know? 

Rachelle: We never say I want to grow up and help people, I want to grow up to be kind, I want to grow up to be someone’s best friend. We never talk about that. And when I realized that I– that’s what I ended up doing for a living and kind of going against, you know, some of the norms of jobs that are out there. I was like, you know what, I should write a book about it and see if anyone feels the same way.

Lois Paula: Yeah. And on that note, can you tell us a little bit about, you know, what you do and how that has, you know, just kind of taken a different path and you have individualized yourself to take this path that you are now in and how it’s inspired you to get to your book?

Rachelle: Totally. So no one ever knows what I do and it’s the best. But everyone’s like “What, what does Rach actually do?” Um, so… 

Lois Paula: Here you go let’s set it straight.

Rachelle: Yeah, here we go. Finally I get the moment. No, I’m just kidding. So I work with the brain. I do have a background in speech pathology but I actually don’t work with speech clients. I actually help the–I help the speech pathologist create brain programs for patients for kids. So a lot of, especially children, they have, you know, developmental goals. Everyone has different goals growing up and I get to help create programs for attention, awareness, reading, language and, and kind of going beyond the diagnosis. That’s the best part of my job. You know there’s a lot of diagnosis out there when it comes to healthcare and patients. But it’s not, you know, it’s always about–cool that’s the diagnosis. But what else, you know? You’re beyond your diagnosis There’s so many great other things about people and about kids and if we’re working with, you know, for example, ADHD, um, you know, that means that they can have a lot of great ideas and they’re, maybe they’re like me. But by the way I actually was diagnosed with ADHD growing up so it’s something I love to talk about. But you’ll probably notice that in this podcast, you’re probably going to, you’re probably going to want to stop me from talking because I talk too much. I think that I should have warned you guys before I came on here. Um, but it’s, it’s helped me become more of a people-person. I love creating ideas for my work. It has helped me develop different strategies. I love working with people, meeting new people and that, I think, has been because of how I was, you know, my personality. And some of the things that I had to go through growing up.

Nan : Wow, you know it’s interesting to see too. I mean and, I know we’re still early in this podcast, but there’s, there’s a running theme with you right? There’s, obviously you wrote the children’s book, which is to help young minds and um–but then your profession also is geared towards helping those young minds and I think it’s really awesome. Was there something in particular that kind of, I don’t know, put you on that trajectory, I mean even from your childhood?

Rachelle: Yeah. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and even when I was in elementary school, high school and then even the beginning of college, I felt like all my friends, they knew exactly what they wanted to do and they had their paths kind of set out for them. But for me, I never knew, I never really knew what I wanted to do. I Just knew that I wanted to have, you know, a greater purpose. Um, and then of course everything that I ended up doing too, I always want to relate it also to church right? So um, helping people, using faith as a big motivator in my career was something that I really wanted to see if I could, if I could channel,  and I think that’s what kind of led me here.

Nan : Wow that’s awesome. It sounds like it’s been quite the journey and, you know, you mentioned faith, you mentioned even at a young age you were–kind of that was one of your motivations right? So It’s been that journey. So if we could continue on, just on the childhood part. Was there anything from your childhood that really influenced your view on kindness? 

Rachelle: Totally. And let me know if I’m, if I’m rambling again. 

Nan : No no, you’re not. You’re not.

Rachelle: Um, so when I was growing up, we lived with my grandparents and so I’m an only child… 

Nan: Me too, me too. 

Rachelle: Oh are you? High-five. Yeah.

Nan:  Yep, high-five, high-five.

Rachelle: Yeah, there’s a lot of connotations to that but high-five. Yeah, we made it. Um I was an only child, but I was also the eldest of the grandkids and there was like a huge gap, like I think it was like, nine years until my family, until I had a cousin basically. So I copied everything my uncles and aunts did. I, you know, I always watched what my grandparents did. And my grandparents were known as the family in the church that let everyone stay at their house for free when they moved.

Nan : Nice.

Rachelle: So like, you know, when people would travel to Michigan, that’s where I’m from, there would be a lot of brethren that were just starting off in like their career or in their life. So a lot of you know, a lot of brethren in the church would be like “Oh you know Sister Fely and, you know, and Brother Roberto, they’re really known for helping people get on their feet.” And I would always see different brethren at my grandparent’s house and, you know, whether they were eating dinner with us, or having lunch with us, or just hanging out and watching TV with us, I would know that my grandparents were helping them out in some way. And I feel like that really stood out to me forever because I was young. I would see so many different families from the age when I was–I saw so many different families when I was only maybe four years old or five and I would see them, you know, kind of get their life started and then they would, you know, they would leave and would always come back and visit and always look for my grandparents. And yeah it was, it was kind of nice.

Lois Paula: And you saw it, and even though you didn’t understand it quite then, now looking back, you’re like okay, that’s why they did that. And it was because of their hearts, and now you see that as the example to follow, obviously, and you want to, ah you know, continue that? 

Rachelle: Completely. Yeah, I’m super big on inclusivity, and I always wondered why. And then I’m like okay it was, it was totally my grandparents and also my parents too. But it was such a big thing in that household–was to make sure that everyone felt included and everyone had a place to stay.

Lois Paula: Um, thank you for sharing that part of your childhood that’s influenced you and now, you know, looking at your path and your trajectory towards–okay, you want to make a difference yourself, and you found your own individualized way and that’s, ah you know, through speech, through the brain, through the mind right? And you are now a clinician in the space where you get to develop these programs to help and serve in that way. When you look now at your focus on words, you know, this particular ah conversation that we’re having is why words matter so much, right? So when you think about connecting the two, you know, your childhood and the examples that your grandparents really were setting and then looking at your love for the way that words impact–was there something along the way also that really stuck with you in terms of, you know, the way people spoke to you or something that stuck out in your childhood that you read perhaps; that you were like, “You know what? Words, this is my jam, like this is my lane and I want to continue on it because they matter, and I’m going to go here.”

Rachelle: Totally. Yeah. Um, actually when I was growing up, my mom always used to tell me, “Everyone matters.” And it’s so funny that this is the title, how much do words matter. And I promise you I was going to say that whether I knew the title or not.

Rachelle: But my mom always used to tell me everyone matters and um, that actually is what I kept with me for so long with work and with what I wanted to do. Everyone matters. So from the, from any like ah, you know, your teacher, your, even at the restaurant, the waiter, the waitress, the one that’s taking your order or if you’re at the store, the cashier, everyone matters. And I, that’s actually why I even developed and created this book was because everyone matters and I feel like sometimes that, you know, a lot of people forget about that. And even as ourselves, we get nervous of what we want to be when we grow up because sometimes we kind of look at the title only. But we don’t, we don’t think about the other parts that makes people matter. And yeah, and everyone matters. That’s kind of stuck out to me.

Nan : Wow, That’s really cool. You know, just that mindset and just having that be your guiding, kind of like your north star right–is everyone matters. It applies, across the board, to like, almost every facet of our life and I think if you conduct yourself in that way, you can’t really go wrong. So thanks for sharing those moments with us. You know I never really stopped to think about those moments in my life until this conversation. You know, thinking about our childhood and reflecting on just those memorable experiences that shaped our outlook on kindness, so you know, especially when I think about words or words that I’ve read. So speaking of reading, and I know we’ve mentioned it ah, but let’s take ah a bit of a deeper dive into the moment you decided to write your book and kind of the moments leading up to that. Like, what was the catalyst for your decision to write a children’s book? Like, what made you say, “Hey, I’m going to write a children’s book.”

Rachelle: Yeah I will be honest I think because of the pandemic–I, I’ve always wanted to. Like, you know, it’s not like I’ve always wanted to write a book, but I’ve always wanted to get my word out there whether it was like a blog or whether I was telling the story I, you know again, I think it’s the older cousin in me. I wanted them to know, like, it’s going to be okay. But because of the pandemic I was like, hey you know I’ve worked from home, we’re not going anywhere, I’m inside, maybe I can write a children’s book and see where it goes.

Nan : Very cool.

Lois Paula: And just knowing that; because you can take your words anywhere, you can write a song, you can post it on social media these days you know, but you chose to go the book route which is beautiful because then, now, you’re not only reinforcing, you know, a positive mindset; you’re not only reinforcing kindness and the message of your book, but you’re reinforcing reading, you know, and continuous education. So I think it’s beautiful and it’s so exciting that you’re not only a published author now, and you’re using all that inspiration, but you have another book in the works. Is that correct? Can you give us a little preview of what that will be?

Rachelle: Yeah, um, so again, I was, like I said, I never pegged myself as an author but because of the response of the first book, I was like, wow, this is kind of making a difference you know. Because there’s been a lot of people that have said, “Wow, that actually resonated with me.” So I decided, you know, another big topic that really related to me and a lot of the things that I go through. Without giving too much away, um, it is going to be called Miss Mountain. So it’s going to follow the same kind of, you know, Mr.Awesome Great Day; this one’s go to be titled Miss Mountain. Um I’m still playing around with the title, but it is, it does actually have to deal a lot with, you know, it has to deal with a lot of the things that we carry in life. And maybe we can realize that we don’t have to carry so much. Maybe that, you know, just, we can kind of go through life knowing that we don’t have to do it all. I guess that’s the best snippet I can give for now.

Lois Paula: I can’t wait already.

Nan : Cool. Well no spoilers right? No spoilers.

Lois Paula: I know. I can’t wait already. And you know, just reading some of the reviews for your first book online like, if I can just read really quickly, read some snippets–it’s just people are saying that there’s such a realistic but wholesome message, and it’s such a great message to show all the kids, and it really starts a great conversation and serves as a wonderful reminder to all parents to simply be a good parent–a good person, excuse me, to simply be a good person. And again, the reviews, you know, go on and on. But we’re very excited for you Rach and all that you’re doing. And again, you could choose to do anything with your words or not, you can keep them in your diary. But you choose, you make the choice to let kindness move you and allow your words to be used as the instrument to move other people. So how does it feel that at the end of the day you’re able to do that for other people–for parents, for children alike?

Rachelle: Awesome! Thank you. Thank you again for your kind words. Um, but it means a lot. I, like I said, when I first wrote the book it was just to kind of have out there–maybe give as a gift to some of my friends, my cousins that always struggle with that question of “What do you want to be when you grow up?” But when I got the responses of, you know, “Thank you. Like I still feel like I was lost even now being in college. Not sure what I want to do.” Even I’ve had adults that have been working in their job for years and they didn’t really feel proud of it. But then when they look back, they’re like, “Wait a minute, I am making a difference and I am doing something I am proud of.” And when I got responses like that I was just like, oh my gosh, like I’m not alone. That was the main thing. I’m, I’m not alone. It wasn’t this, like I said, I never really knew what I was going to do and even when I was in my job, no one really could give an exact name or title to the position that I was doing. I just knew that I was helping people and that was fine and that was fine with me and for people to find passion in what they’re doing, not because of the titles, but because of what they’re doing and who they’re helping, that was so huge to hear that kind of feedback.

Nan : That’s so amazing to hear you know and it’s refreshing to hear too because you’re right. You know, there’s a lot of focus on titles and what those titles might imply right? But you know, when you really look at who you’re helping and how you’re helping people, you know, that just brings a whole, ah, different perspective and I think it’s really awesome. And I did want to point out um, earlier when you were talking about the second book that you’re working on–that the feedback that you got from the first book was a pretty much a bit of an inspiration for you to continue with that second book right? So I just want to highlight that words do matter. Because it inspired Rach to continue with her book.

Rachelle: Totally.

Nan: So you know as we mentioned earlier we are asking, ah, how much do words matter? You know, what are your thoughts on how much words truly matter, especially given your, you know, your professional career and then also your second, I guess, career as an author. So yeah, how much do words matter?

Rachelle: Words matter. Yeah, words totally matter. Um, especially when you are trying to talk to people that feel the same kind of things that you do, or they’re experiencing the things that you’re experiencing. But words completely matter and I think the best thing that I’ve seen is that when you actually are able to talk to people that feel the same way and that they’re they have the same journey, it matters even more because you’re, you know you’re gaining more trusted people you’re seeing that people have the same interests, you’re seeing that people have the same goals, the same struggle. Um, but I think the biggest takeaway for me when it comes to words is that they stay. So whether you’ve said something to someone in the past; whether it was something that you’ve heard growing up, it matters and it’ll stick with you. And the kindness that I’ve seen through my family or my friends or the things that I’ve learned in Church, it’s so amazing to me that some of those words that I’ve heard growing up or that I’ve heard in, you know, Children’s Worship Service–they’ve stayed, and they’ve surfaced in my thirties and I think the main thing is, and I’m so glad you guys are doing this podcast because kindness really does matter. And I’ve seen so many people also in my field of healthcare where you have to treat everyone with that kindness and with that respect no matter what they’re going through; and you also have to remember that you don’t know what they’re going through, so to approach people and to talk to people with kindness, it’s really going to stick with them, and it’s really going to stay with them, and even though you don’t, you might not even know that you’ve touched their life in a certain way, and I’m sure there’s so many people in my life that they have no idea that their words have actually changed my life. But it stayed, and I think that’s why I really wanted to write this book, and I’m so glad that the Church has a podcast just like this because it’s going to stay and I, you know, I’ll probably have people listen to this and you probably have people listening to you where they don’t even realize that things that they’re experiencing or the words that they’re saying to people are words that have been said to them–it all stays and it all matters. I hope that made sense.

Nan : Now that that made total sense, and you know that entire process, it’s clear that the entire process has been inspiring for you. But the even cooler part is that it, not only has it been inspiring for you, it’s clear that it’s been inspiring to your readers right, to your readers. And I’m sure now even, your patients um, have also experienced that, I’m sure, from you and just the way that you passionately explained that. So I think that’s really awesome, and we’re so glad that you’re with us today. Um. And you’ve already shared with us some of the details about the, this upcoming book. Um LP, did you, is there something you wanted to share about, I think you were talking about adding this to a reading list, and I know you have 2 little ones, is there something that you wanted to share with that?

Lois Paula: Yes, absolutely. I do have 2 little ones. I have a 7-year-old and a 2-year-old.

Rachelle: Awesome.

Lois Paula: Um and we are constantly just on this path of okay, what words can we say today that we didn’t say yesterday, or what’s sticking, and what’s not, you know? So really understanding the depth of how much words matter and the way, like you mentioned, the tone that it’s delivered in and really assessing, ah you can choose anything to say or not. You know, you can choose the silence, or you can choose to be more straightforward and direct in your words. But it’s the fact that you not only acknowledge it, but now you’re taking action and I think that’s what is really exciting about Kindness Moves–is we meet individuals who are from different ah backgrounds in their life, different ages. They have different professions, but they use the professions, and then they use their faith, and they somehow find the inspiration to make both worlds, ah you know, intertwine. You know, and their faith inspires them in their professional lives and their professional lives inspire them in their faith, and it all comes full circle, and they’re able to just use it to move other people in their lives. And they choose, like I mentioned earlier, they choose to use their passions in a different aspect. You don’t have to spend your time, your extra time writing a book. You can focus on your work. But you choose to take your passion and now make your words matter even more.

Lois Paula: And so now you know we ask a question to our listeners like, what will you do today? You know if you have an extra 5 minutes if you have an extra 30 minutes, how will you make your words matter? Is that sending a text to someone? You know, is that writing a handwritten note and leaving a post-it, you know, on your neighbor’s car? You know, how are you going to make your words matter? Are you going to address the first person that you see in the morning and ask them genuinely, “How are you feeling?” Or are you just going to walk by because you’re running out of time? You know, we’re so, kind of in this world of we’re rushing, we’re rushing, we’re going, we have so many things to do. But ah, you know, listening to you speak Rach, just listening to all our guests and really being reminded that, you know, taking that moment to acknowledge the other, you know, person and acknowledge what other people are going through; just being aware of that, it matters and the words very much matter.

Nan: If I could share too, there’s intention, right? Like, I keep going back to the way, Rach, that you described um your outlook on people and titles and how, you know, it’s not about the title, it’s about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it, right, and how they’re helping. Um so the same can be applied to just kindness in general right? There has to be an intention to it. It’s an intentional act of being kind and, like what LP said, we’re not asking someone how they’re doing just for the sake of asking. Like, we genuinely and sincerely want to know, “Hey how are you doing?” Um, so I think it’s been so great hearing your outlook and hearing how kindness, and how words really matter, especially in so many different aspects of your life. Um, so thanks so much for sharing that with us.

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Lois Paula: Well for this segment of our podcast, we have a special guest who is revisiting us on Kindness Moves podcast. She is a Clinical Psychologist, and she joined us in our previous episode The Healing Power Of Kindness and if you haven’t taken a listen yet, you should go back to your episode playlist and listen. But we’d like to please welcome Dr. Sydney Fontanares. Hello again.

Sydney Fontanares: Hi

Nan : Hi Dr. Sydney.

Sydney Fontanares: Thank you for having me again 

Lois Paula: Yes, so great to have you back. How are you?

Sydney Fontanares: Well, I’m glad to be back. It’s always fun working with the both of you and chatting.

Nan : Yes, it’s always fun having you. 

Lois Paula: Yes, and we have been looking to having you back on because we’ve actually been chatting–ah, you know, last time we talked about the healing power of kindness and today for this episode, we’re actually now asking the question–how much do words matter? Um, and you know of course in your profession, this is, as a clinical psychologist, this is very important. So we’d love to get the expert advice and just, you know, the insight from you. Earlier we heard from Rachel, and we learned you know in her perspective as an author, also as a clinician, how words are very important. Um, but from your perspective as a clinical psychologist, how much do words matter? You know, why are they so powerful and does this even change you know from childhood to adulthood?

Sydney Fontanares: Yeah, um to start off with the first part of your question LP; words are, they matter a lot.

Lois Paula; Yes, that’s it period done 

Nan : Ah, and that’s a wrap that’s a wrap.

Lois Paula: It’s a statement that’s so loaded. Yes I agree.

Sydney Fontanares: Um, they matter so much, I don’t even have the words to express it. Um, but in my field, I work as a clinical psychologist or as a therapist, um we use our words as a form of healing, a tool of healing. 

Sydney Fontanares: We do talk therapy, and what we say to our patients, or my patients, can be very helpful in their journey of recovery with their mental health issues. Um kind of um, you know, why are words so powerful? And I would start off with because humans are, are social creatures. How we are, how we, I guess survive, and interact in the world is the way we communicate, how we speak to one another–we communicate about our needs, our wants, excuse me, um you know, our dislikes. We communicate, um you know, ways you know to stay safe, and we’re not able to do that without words. Um, and then so that’s why it’s so important.It makes it, it helps us be able to journey through this world and, you know, get through life. Without words it would be a little bit more difficult, or at least a way to communicate would be a little bit more difficult.

Sydney Fontanares: The question is–does this change from childhood to adulthood? I don’t think so. I think how we use our words is something to be mindful um, throughout our entire lives. Even the way, a big example is how parents communicate with children. I say this because I work with all adults. And part of the work that we do in therapy is talking about how we were spoken to as children. Because a lot of times what we do when we look at thoughts or beliefs that, um, that surround anxiety–whenever we feel anxious or depressed, we think of like, of the words that were used to us on kind of like how they’re all associated. Um, a lot of the work that I do is called CBT which is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. And one of the ways that we work with patients is looking at specific thoughts or statements, and we have to use words to be able to um, to I guess portray those statements or core beliefs. And part of where we get those statements are, you know, what are the things that your parents have told you while you were growing up? You know how, is this associated with anxiety that you experience now or your self-esteem? Ah, they’re all associated. I hope that these are all making sense. It makes sense in my brain.

Lois Paula: No, it does.

Nan: That makes sense totally.

Lois Paula: It’s already, you know, bringing back emotions just hearing that because there are things that each of us, you know, remember very specifically hearing that, you know, was either positive or negative, and it has, it now, as adults, it triggers certain, you know, emotion, it triggers a certain reaction as well, and it impacts the way that we react when we’re retold and or when we hear those things you know, restated to us, or we see it just, you know, visually on paper. So definitely.

Nan : Right, and it could even be a word, but not necessarily the word, but the way the word is said right? I mean.

Sydney Fontanares: Yes. Yeah, yeah, the nonverbal piece. I believe the fact or the statistic or what they say is nonverbal is eighty or ninety percent of communication. The rest are the twenty, ten percent are words. So even the way how our facial expression is, the tone of voice, how we approach the person can affect the way we communicate with another person. So in going back to what LP was saying, like how words can trigger certain emotions, yes, the words are very triggering, or they queue up a feeling or a memory that’s associated with that word usually. Um, sometimes, ah the word ‘No’; the word ‘No’ is actually a very simple word but can actually trigger a lot of negative emotions. First of all, the way it’s said too, of course, so, and it’s yeah, it’s kind of funny too because I have ah, I have a 3-year-old that is communicating a lot, and now I’m communicating to her the word ‘No’ and I’m trying to be mindful of how I say no or even try to decrease how much I say no because just knowing that this is, you know, the way I say it is going to be something that she might store in her memory and bring up certain things for her.

Lois Paula: And that’s what’s so great about just exploring the weight of words, right? And how much, like you mentioned earlier, the different tones, the different configurations of the statement. You know, whatever it is that we want to say we have many choices of how to say it. And they all mean, you know, differently. But it really does, it has an impact positively and or negatively, and it can be stronger or received you know, better or more impactfully depending on the words that we pick, and we have that choice. Every single day, every minute, and  sometimes we’re not even thinking about it and we choose the incorrect one because, for whatever reason, we just, you know, don’t choose the other one. Um.

Sydney Fontanares: There is something that I’ve read about, there is something called like a negative bias where ah humans are actually more primed to go into the negative route, and we store ah, more of, more negative experiences into our memories. It’s supposed to be a way for us to be prepared. Like we want to be more prepared to like fight or flight. Um, so it does take a lot of work actually, to really be intentional about, like, of using positive words and things like that.

Nan: Yeah that’s, that’s interesting. Yeah, and that makes sense. It’s more for self-preservation. You want to know what’s going to hurt you or kill you, right? So you know, and I think that’s really interesting. Um, and I think you kind of mentioned it earlier. You mentioned that there was a study and I know we’re talking about how much words matter–it’s pretty difficult to quantify that. But are there other studies or other examples that you’ve come across through your entire professional career that kind of highlight how much words matter?

Sydney Fontanares: Yeah, there was one study that I came across. It was a study in 2010 in Germany and the study was called–Do Words Hurt? Um, and it comes from that saying you know, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” And the question is–do words, can words hurt? And what they find is that it can. It looks like negative words release stress and anxiety-inducing hormones. 

Lois Paula: Ah.

Sydney Fontanares: So they um, yeah, they took, I forget how many subjects, and then they presented words to them; neutral words, positive words, negative words, and then pain-inducing words, and they did; and then they also scanned their, it’s called an FMRI, just to see like the functioning of the brain, and then they saw that the brain would release hormones that are stress and anxiety-inducing when they showed the pain-inducing and negative words.

Lois Paula: Yeah, so there is a physiological kind of change happening.Is there more to it, that we can try to help ourselves to choose the good versus the bad?

Sydney Fontanares: Yeah. No, I agree. Sometimes you just have to remove that from your life and be very intentional of even the, your social circle, and who is in there, and you know what kind of words they say to you. Um, and not only just the external, these external pieces too. But also the words that we use for ourselves. Like, how do we talk to ourselves? And what words we use for that? Again, that can be a reflection of the words that, you know, were said to us growing up or even the words that are said to us currently. And being intentional about how we, ourselves, use words for others and how we communicate with others, including our spouses, our children especially. Um, you know, since we’re talking about like the neuroscience, you know, our kids’ brains are just, they’re forming every day and, so again, being able to… 

Lois Paula: Ah, words matter. 

Sydney Fontanares: They do, they really do, and it’s, I’m very passionate of it. It’s you know, every time I work with an adult patient, that’s what we work on. We’re we’re working on the statements that were said to them in the past and challenging them and trying to make them positive because they’re, these negative words, they have proven not to be helpful for them. It gets in the way of their daily functioning. It prevents them from, to see, you know, joy or to you know experience good things and see good things. So yeah.

Lois Paula: Well in that regard, if you have a piece of advice that you can share just knowing the impact that words have from childhood all the way, you know, the lasting impact into adulthood, what’s one piece of advice if we can try? You know, not so, it doesn’t have to be so large, but like what’s one thing that all of us can do every, like right now or today to just change those maybe not so good habits–um, you know, or try to just be more mindful of the words that we choose to say?

Sydney Fontanares: I would, first of all, just start writing like, you just write three pages a day right in the morning. Um, just continue to write. Some people choose not to read over it, but I would read over it and just to see how the words that, what words are you utilizing, what words are you using to describe other people or yourself. And you start to maybe start to see patterns there and that’s probably where I would start off just to see where you’re at with kind of the words that you use. And the question is like are there places that you can rephrase things where it is more kind to yourself or another person or more positive? So yeah.

Lois Paula: And that’s a great tip. I love that because it’s not until you read back or reanalyze, just in terms of all of our self-reflection; especially, you know, being Christians in the Church Of Christ, we are always reminded to reflect, right? And so I think that’s a great tip to just write because then sometimes people have ah, challenges communicating, right? They don’t know how to talk about how they feel. And so when they’re in certain issues and conflicts with other people, they don’t know how to get their feelings across properly, and then it’s misunderstood. But it’s just because they don’t know how to say it properly and possibly because they’re not practicing enough. So I think you’re right. Writing is a great tool to just get it down, reassess later, and you know, grow and learn and try to improve, you know, day by day. So what a great tip.

Nan : I think, if it wasn’t clear before our conversation, it’s crystal clear now that words really matter.

Lois Paula: And we all are a work in progress and Dr. Sydney Fontanares is here to tell us that it matters, and we have to work at it. There’s a constant, conscious effort that we always have to put forth to improve the way we communicate so that we can use the best words possible because they matter.

Nan:  Yes.

Sydney Fontanares: They certainly do.

Lois Paula: Well thank you so much for joining us. Is there anything else you wanted to add in our discussion today?

Sydney Fontanares: I don’t. I hope I added enough.

Nan: No that was great. Thank you Dr. Sidney. We really appreciate it. 

Sydney Fontanares: No problem. I’ve enjoyed my time.

Lois Paula: But yes, we’d like to now, at this point, you know that was so beautiful to hear that insight as well. But we’d like to now welcome back Rach to our discussion where, you know earlier in the episode, we discussed her passions um, from her profession, and how as a child she’s allowed her inspirations from childhood to move her into now authoring a book and combining the two worlds of, you know, her profession with her passion, okay, and using that to move her. Um, so Rach, we actually have one more question for you and Nan will take it away.

Nan: Yeah, you know, before we end the show. We ask some of our guests this question, not everyone, but it is always an interesting question to ask even ourselves. So we wanted to ask you–what would you tell your fifteen-year-old self knowing what you now know today? You know, what would you tell your fifteen-year-old self about, you know, how things are going to play out, how kindness has played such a major role in your life or whatever it might be? What would you tell your fifteen-year-old self, knowing what you know now?

Rachelle: Wow my fifteen-year-old self–you guys should see what I looked like when I was fifteen, there’s a lot of things to say.

Nan : Prove it, prove it, prove it. (laughter)

Rachelle: (laughter) Ok I will. I’m going to show you guys. But honestly, if I could tell my fifteen-year-old self, I would let her know that it’s going to be okay. I think that would probably resonate. It’s a simple sentence. But if my fifteen-year-old self would know that it’s gonna work out, and it’s going to be okay–and actually a big quote that I live by is “faith over fear”. That’s my main, I’ve lived through, that quote has been in my life for years, I think since maybe I was like twelve years old. Um and if I could tell my  fifteen-year-old self that, just keep remembering that, “faith over fear”. It’s going to be okay. God’s got you. That’s what I would say.

Nan : That’s awesome.

Lois Paula: Very beautiful. Thank you. And actually, last question–you know, as an author, as a Christian as well, you know, how has your faith been that underlying, you know, inspiration-motivator. How has it affected you in your career path and in the words that you speak of, that you write?

Rachelle: Totally. I always promised myself that even when I took this job in California, that was, by the way, something really difficult to do. We’ll speak on that on another podcast, another episode. But leaving my family in Michigan was really hard to do to take this job. But I promised myself that no matter what job I took or what career path, it would never hinder my faith. Um and I feel like, you know, being in the choir, I’m actually an organist, there are so many times that I wanted to quit, and I wanted to give up because when you’re so busy with work, and you’re trying to make a career for yourself, it’s a lot to handle you know? Especially with having a duty. But I’ll never forget that all those times that I’ve worked with choir mentors or where I’ve had choir practices or we’ve obviously been in worship service and we’re listening to the lessons–there’s so many applicable things in my faith that have helped so much with my job and with with work and the the way that my career is. And I would never, I don’t think I, actually know, I don’t think I know–I know that I would never be in the position I am today if I was to let go of those duties. I know that and and I can speak to that because when I’m speaking to patients and I’m thinking of, you know, how to help them and I’m thinking of you know the kindness again that I’m I’m saying to them or if I’m thinking of, you know, how to lead meetings at work or if I’m thinking of listening to different clients or different employees; it’s all through how I would be at church. It’s all through what I’ve learned through church; how to be respectful, how to talk to people, how to have patience, how to have faith. It all came from my duties and from God.

Nan : Well I think it’s awesome and thank you LP for even bringing that up as well because you know, this whole theme of words being such an important part of your life, it’s even more clear now. You know, you being an organist right? You’re surrounded by words, the hymns and whatnot. Um, and then also obviously attending worship services, we hear the word. Um, So yeah, if you can speak on that. Just how impactful has it been in that regard right? Hearing the words–we spoke earlier about hearing words that have shaped us and kind of molded us. Can you share a little bit of that as well?

Rachelle: I think many would agree that, I’m sure, a hymn or a lyric from one of our hymns in our worship services have got them through something in their life. I know a lot of times, when I was low or I wanted to give up, I would think of a hymn that resonated so much with my life and, you know, getting through it and giving it all to God and you know never giving up and having faith. Every time that I would face difficulty or a trial or a challenge in my life, I would think of those words that I’m singing to God or I would think of those worship services. I feel like also there, I feel like maybe if you guys experience this too, where you are going through something so strong and then all of a sudden that worship service you attend, the hymns are pertaining to that.

Lois Paula: That’s perfect. It always lines up the exact verses that we needed to hear from the Bible to tell us exactly what to do at that moment in our life.

Rachelle: Exactly exactly exactly exactly. And it’s as if God was speaking to you right? Then and there and it’s exactly what you needed and then yeah, you think to yourself, why would I ever give this up? Why would I ever give my duty up? Why would I ever give my faith up when He’s the one that got me here. He’s the one that’s helping me. So you’re absolutely right to ask that question. Words matter because it, whether it’s from God through the bible verses, whether it’s from hymns that we’re singing, it all connects.

Lois Paula: And we’re so grateful for the inspiration that you again are not only sharing with us but you have shared and you’re being an instrument through the words that you’re writing you know, and in your local congregation of the Church Of Christ there now in Northern California and, of course, from your roots back in Michigan. We’re just grateful for your joining us today Rach yeah.

Nan: Thanks Rach.

Lois Paula: Excited for your next book. Ah.

Rachelle: Thank you so much I know we got to get started. It’s still a draft form. It’s–there’s papers all over the place but it’s happening. It’s getting there.

Nan: I can’t say it enough and you know what’s interesting at the end of each podcast LP was saying how awesome all of our guests have been and you are no exception. You have been so awesome and LP and I, every time we come to the close, we’re just like in awe, you know? Because all of you are so special and you all have such amazing journeys and amazing insight. So I can’t say it enough. Yeah.

Lois Paula: Thank you so much Rach. We appreciate you joining us. We’re so grateful. Thank you.

Rachelle: Thank you guys.

Nan: Thank you to our listeners for joining us on this episode of Kindness Moves. We really hope you enjoyed it. I know I did. I know LP did. And don’t worry. There are more discussions to come.

Lois Paula: Yes, please stay tuned for more. There’s many more stories to come and to share. So if you like also the tips that you are hearing follow @incgivingproject Instagram account for weekly inspiration. So thanks for tuning in. I’m Lois Paula.

Nan : And I’m Nan. Also, again, thank you for joining us and for more tips and ideas on how you can make kindness contagious please visit and if you want to listen to more awesome episodes like today’s episode ah you can listen to the Kindness Moves podcast on Google Podcast, Apple Podcasts and the INC Media mobile app for iOS or Android. Please also remember to subscribe or follow us to know when the newest episodes are available.

Lois Paula: Remember, act now. Make your move to do good because kindness matters. It’s meaningful, it motivates, kindness moves.

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