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The Power of Words: Overcoming Adversity and Thriving

In a recent conversation with my family, I shared a childhood memory that I often refrain from recollecting. It revolves around my former 5th-grade teacher, who unjustly labeled me as "Dumb Danny." However, amidst the painful experience, I recalled a chapter of the story that seldom comes to mind. Surprisingly, that very teacher called me out of the classroom one day and sincerely apologized. Although her hurtful words profoundly impacted me at the time, I began to reflect on how that incident altered my perspective.

I used to love math and dreamt of becoming a doctor, but that day marked a turning point. From that moment forward, I kept myself small, avoiding unnecessary interactions and shrinking into the background like a wallflower. I lacked confidence and subjected myself to the derogatory remarks, influenced by the bullying environment within my relatives. The absence of positive reinforcement hindered my ability to perceive any positivity within myself. This encounter serves as a powerful reminder of the immense impact our words can have on others. It takes approximately five positive words to counterbalance a single negative remark and reshape one's thought process and emotions.

As a therapist, I have come to realize that many of us carry the residual pain inflicted by former teachers, educators, family, and community members. But here's the good news: we have the power to free ourselves from this burden. It no longer has a hold on us. So, let's embark on a journey of self-discovery. Allowing ourselves to envision a brighter future, I urge you to reflect and consider what you truly desire for your own life.

Revisiting this incident in my past, I now empathize with my 5th-grade teacher, as I now comprehend the challenges of being an educator responsible for guiding an entire class through multiple levels of comprehension. Looking back, I believe she was simply having a difficult day, much like I have experienced myself. Although I never resorted to uttering negative words to my own students, I recognize that I may not always have exhibited the patience I should have. Perhaps you can relate to this as well. Therefore, I implore you to seize control of your emotions, as they possess the power to change the course of a child's life, your partner's life, or even someone who profoundly matters to you.

From my tumultuous encounter with this teacher, I extracted the motivation needed to transform and flourish. I surpassed the limits of the phrase "Dumb Danny" and embraced my true value and intelligence. It called for the practice of extending grace and forgiving both others and myself. Furthermore, I perceive this pivotal moment as an opportunity to express gratitude for the progress I have made.

Allow me to relate my experiences to an upcoming project: my forthcoming book, Messages on Connection and Belonging. In this book, I delve into various stories and explore the significance of connection and belonging within the realms of community, work, family, religious affiliations, and above all, ourselves. I provide valuable insight and reflection questions to guide readers towards meaningful self-discovery.

If you are interested in preordering a copy, please visit Let us embrace the power of our stories, transcending the negatives and finding inspiration in our journeys. Together, we can motivate and encourage one another to evaluate our own narratives and messages.


The wait is over! Danny L. Ross's book "Messages on Connection and Belonging" is here! To celebrate, we invite you to join us for a series of live streams with special guests who will delve into the book's themes. On August 8, 9, and 10th at 7 p.m. CST, join us as we discuss how to feel connected and a sense of belonging in various areas of our lives. Let's start this journey together.

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