The Power Of Words
We forget how much power we have. Say something nice and soothing and we bring happiness to others. Say something mean and disrespectful and we can bring others to tears. If we say something with enough certainty we can create supporters for good or ill-fated ideas.
What I’m saying is nothing new and yet we seem to withhold kind words but have no problem dishing out hurtful ones. And we mostly do it because we are angry ourselves, and we don’t know what to do about it.
Yesterday, while sitting with a friend, he said he thought I was a person of great worth. His comment while not fundamental to my self-esteem, made me feel appreciated and validated. A person who I care about shared he thought my life had meaning. It made me feel great. I in turn told him what a good person he is. This exchange was not a warm and fuzzy festival. I’m by no means a sentimental person. This was an exchange of two people who shared what they believed to be truths. We didn’t have to wait to say what we said till a formal opportunity appeared, be that an award ceremony or a memorial.
I learned the power of words when I was very young. One day when playing truth or dare with a bunch of my girlfriends I said to one of them that although I didn’t think she was very smart I still liked her. I was young and naïve but I learned then and there that what we say has consequences.
I’m not advocating that we lie when the truth happens to be hurtful. What I’m saying is; think about what you say and how you say it. Think also if you must say it.
Sometimes we just say things to show others how smart we are. I remember being at a fund-raiser for a documentary on healing a few months after my husband passed away. I wasn’t in my best frame of mind. I didn’t believe the sincerity of the woman making the presentation. At the time I felt it was my moral obligation to show others what I thought was the truth. I stood up and told her I didn’t believe her. Today I see my motivation wasn’t to show the truth. My motivation was to show others how clever I was.
The power of the word can also get people to band together for causes good or bad. Words said with enough energy have huge impact in our psyches especially in times of hardship. Think about such hateful discourses as: “Gays are the cause of what is wrong in the word. Down with gays.” Or “We are in this mess because of the Jews.”
What we say can impact our lives, relationships and communities in a positive or negative way. All it takes is to do it right is to stand in someone else’s shoes before we say something. Stand in their shoes and realize what a kind word can do and stand in their shoes and feel the consequences of a hateful word.
It doesn’t take a lot of energy to be aware of others. It actually all that’s needed is compassion.
“It is lack of love for ourselves that inhibits our compassion toward others. If we make friends with ourselves, then there is no obstacle to opening our hearts and minds to others.” – Unknown