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Words and Their Impact

There is an old saying that kids always say: “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” To this, I say simply BULLSHIT! If we talk about the physical body only then yes that is very true. Words in of themselves do not damage our bodies, as they have no mass; however, the hurt they cause is much worse. Words can damage us worse than any “sticks or stones.” Physical injuries while very painful at times heal. They heal relatively quickly and once the wound is healed, it is healed. It does not come back unless we reinjure ourselves.

Wounds caused by words on the other hand do not usually heal so quickly. Why?  Because they do not harm our body, which easily heals, but rather their harm is to our hearts, our minds and our very souls. As with physical injuries, not all words cause the same degree of harm. Some cause a little sadness while others devastate us. Many factors determine how badly they hurt us and how long it takes us to “heal.” If the person is a stranger to us or someone we only know casually their words have considerably less impact because we can shrug it off and say, “They do not really know me,” so their words mean less to us. The more we know a person, the more we love a person, the more important to us they are, the more harsh and/or negative words about us or to us hurt. Why? Because we need their love and approval. Now some people will say, I do not care what anyone thinks about me. This is another load of bullshit. All but the most cynical and heartless people care what SOMEONE thinks about them. The more compassionate we are, the more we love people, the more we care about people, the more we care what people think of us.

I like to think of myself as a very loving and compassionate person. I like to think of myself as a person who cares deeply for people around me.  I hate to see others suffer and want to help them as best I can. I do not this for some promise of reward in the future, but because everyone deserves certain things in this world, love, happiness, a roof over their head, food in the stomach and to be treated as a human being with the respect and dignity that comes with that.

There is no one in the world that does not deserve these things at a minimum, nor is there anyone out there that does not want them. For me, I do not care much about what people think of me as a general rule of thumb, but I do care greatly about those close to me. I do care about my good friends and the people that I love. The closer the person is to me, the more I care, the more I need their approval.

That is why when someone close to me says something harsh or negative to me it is so painful for me. I know I am not alone in this; we ALL hurt in these cases. Negative words from someone we care about and love dig deep into us. They can make us hate ourselves, and doubt ourselves amongst a host of other things. Negative words can easily “knock the wind out of our sails,” drain us of our focus and energy in other words.

Now let us look at the good side of things.

Not all words cause us harm. There are “neutral’ words that neither cause harm nor joy. These are most of the words we hear all the time so there is nothing really to say about them.

Positive words, words of love, devotion, praise etc, can have a profound positive impact on us. They make us feel loved and accepted. They show us the approval of others. They feel that deep need in us for that approval. They make us feel better about ourselves. They remind us that we are good people even when we make mistakes. That is why words of forgiveness are so important to us. We need to know that even though we fucked up that people still love us and believe in us. That they do not think we are failures or bad people. Now sometimes these words are not enough to heal a deep wound, but they are a big help to us and set us on the right path, especially when they are reinforced with actions that show that the words are sincere and when both words and actions are repeated.

The right words can elevate our hearts to new levels of joy and happiness, especially from the right people. To hear that someone we love still loves us after a bad fight for example is blissful and can reduce a person to tears of joy at hearing that; especially if we were the ones at fault. It makes us so grateful that they will not abandon us just because of our mistakes.

Words of praise also make our hearts sing. They show us that others around us see that we are doing our best and a good job. They show us that we are visible and help to validate us. These are especially important in times of self-doubt or self-hate.

Positive words help to rebuild us. They give back what was taken away or lost for some reason. As with negative words, the more we care about a person, the more we love them, the greater the impact of these positive words on us. With people that do not know us, or do not know us well positive words have greater impact than negative ones from the same person. Why? Because it shows us that, our own light shines so bright that even those we do not know us can see it. It is a great boost to our self-esteem. It shows that we truly are a good person if a stranger can see it in us. The difference is , that if we don’t know the person and they DON’T have positive words about us it does not matter as much to us; whereas, if the person we love doesn’t have something positive to say about us, at least at times, it has a tremendous impact because we start wondering if we are failures in their eyes. Just a few small words of approval or encouragement from someone we love can make all the difference in our world.

Not only do positive words show us approval of others but also they show us that others care about us. They show us that we matter.

Life is a constant battle between positive and negative forces in our lives. The negative trying to consume us and drive us into depression and despair, the positive, fighting to not only keep the negative away from us, but to show us the way through life, to show us happiness and joy. The negative try to cast us into darkness, the light fights against it.

At times in our lives, the negative seems to win. That is only because we welcome it and let it win. It is so much easier to let the pain take control of us than to fight it. So easy to say “I give up” then it is to say,” I will fight this with everything I have.” It is easier because it does not require anything of us other than to give up. To fight takes not only our will but also energy. It takes energy to fight anything. It requires us to do SOMETHING for ourselves. Hell, it just requires us to do SOMETHING, period.

We cannot allow any negative to consume us, be it words, be it actions, and be it anything. We have to keep fighting the darkness lest it consume us and destroy us. Life demands balance, we can choose to find this balance by fighting the darkness or we can let the darkness win and send us into the abyss of depression. The choice is ours and ours alone. No one can force us to make either choice.

To take a quote from Goodkinds novels:

Your life is yours alone, rise up and live it!

Look at the impact of just those few words. Those words spoken with authority and conviction can open eyes and motivate people to fight back and take their lives back!

Words are powerful in good and bad ways. Choose them carefully and calmly. Do not choose them in haste or when angered or in pain. Life is about choices and each choice we make defines our lives, but not just ours, the lives of those around us. We are all interconnected in this world; none of us are an island unto ourselves. Anyone that believes they are needs to open their eyes, mind and heart to those around them. Even a stranger can be touched and influenced by our words and deeds. You never know when your words can change the course of a person’s life. When they can bring a person back from despair and remind them they have something to live for, or when they can push the person over the edge into suicide or depression.

Always think before you speak. Once the words leave your mouth, they cannot be unheard. They cannot be erased from our minds, our hearts and our souls. We can only fight to overcome them.

Posted: May 19th, 2012 under Thoughts.

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