Words. We all use them every day. Spoken. Written. Our thoughts are filled with words. We listen to them on the TV and on the radio. We read them on signs, in newspapers and in posts like this. Words convey information, teach us new things, communicate directions, and express feelings. They are tools that allow us to be in community with others.
“I’ve learned that words are the most powerful weapon in the world and should be used with extreme caution.”
Words can be powerful in both positive and negative ways.
Words clearly have the power to hurt; to cause friction and tension. Words thrown about without concern for others can lead to disharmony not only in personal relationships but also in families, communities and between nations of the world.
As humans, most of us believe our words are truth. But, without the ability truly hear someone else’s truth, we create a world for ourselves of absolutes to the exclusion of other varied and often interesting perspectives. We are saying to the other person that if they do not think the way we do, they are fundamentally wrong. We have stepped far away from the ‘I’m OK, You’re OK’ idea.
In a post on the blog ‘My Magnificent Mess’ the author wrote words that really captured this point for me. She said, “Truth is uniquely personalized. My truths are not yours-although they may be similar. I have an obligation to present my truths respectfully, to present myself respectfully and with consideration towards others. Being genuine does not mean I have a license to be hurtful.”
Often in our society of encouraged ‘self expression’, giving us license to say how we feel about everything, people lose sight of the common courtesies of kindness. And in a day when many take offense at things so swiftly and easily, a quick ‘self-expression’ without thinking of the ripple effect of those words can harm greatly.
Words are often spoken that are not even true. Lies. Just look at our political ads. The words spoken create an emotional response to them even when the words we are responding to are not true. Lies are words that can destroy trust and create cynicism.
Thankfully however, words can also be positive things. They can express compassion, share wisdom, mentor us through challenges, and encourage us through difficult times. Inspired words can uplift us, help us to create a positive vision for our futures and motivate us to accomplish great things.
Words impact us from the beginning of life, when they are teaching us about how to interact with this miraculous new world, to the end of life when words spoken softly with love can bring us peace in our passing.
While words have the power to harm, they also have a great power to heal. Using words to ask for forgiveness can heal not only the offended but the offender as well. An apology for something said or done that hurt somebody, can begin a healing from a place inside that a Band-Aid and first aid cream will never reach.
Words indeed are powerful weapons and tools. We make decisions each and every day whether we will use them to encourage or to hurt. If in times of gut emotional response we took several seconds to pause before we launched into our ‘right’ to self-expression, how might we change our communications? How might it play out if we simply decided not to say everything that came into our mind? Is it possible that we would enjoy more of the positive benefits of words?
Surrounding ourselves with positive words keeps us in a positive frame of mind. There is truth to the idea that you are who you hang out with. When I take the time to read and listen to inspirational works, I feel inspired which in turn leads me to be inspiring to others. I would much rather create that kind of ripple effect than some of the others that I could create.
So the next time you feel the need for self-expression rise up inside of you with powerful emotion attached, in the wise words of Earl Wilson, “If you wouldn’t write it and sign it, don’t say it.” Evaluating your words in this way may just keep you from gushing out the harmful ones but allow you the opportunity to uplift and inspire with the helpful ones.
Words can be a weapon, so, handle with care (and keep the safety on!)……..
On the journey with you…….Kathy
(Quote: Age 52- The Complete Live and Learn and Pass It On, by H. Jackson Brown, Jr.)