Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.
We have all heard this expression as kids. While this may have seemed like a great tactic to use on the playground in self-defense, words actually CAN and DO hurt. And the pain caused from them often lingers long past the healing time of any cut or broken bone. Some words can cause pain that may never go away, or create an “invisible” scar that one carries around their entire life. The memory of painful words can lead to a lifetime of anxiety, stress, anger, resentment, and fear, among other feelings.
In today’s modern, western society of free thinking and free speech – both wonderful rights which we are blessed to have – we now have the tools to use our words to make an even deeper impact and reach an even broader audience. On the bright side, we can spread a message of peace, love and tranquility to the world. We can put kind posts on Facebook walls and support each other from afar. We can use our words in a supportive, nurturing manner to make someone feel good about themselves. We have the power to use our words to make others happy.
At the opposite spectrum, we can hurt each other on an even deeper level than ever before, with just our words. Sadly, many kids today don’t just use mean names on the playground as a form of bullying. They now use the power of the Internet to post terrible, hateful words they may not have ever even dared to utter in person – words so hurtful and cruel that several kids with bright futures have turned to suicide to escape from them. The tragedy of cyberbullying has become so widespread that there is now new legislation being drafted to combat it.
Your words can cause harm.
Too often, we may say something without thought. We may believe what we are saying is right and believe are words will help. In fact, we can still cause damage with our words.
We may be challenging a person’s way of thinking or actions. While we may all be speaking the same language, words can be misinterpreted or misread. Sometimes clarification or further questioning is needed to understand the meaning behind the words. Despite our best intentions, we can still cause pain with our words.
Do you keep track of how many times you say something that can hurt someone else? Who doesn’t repeat a little bit of gossip here and there? Whether it’s true or false, we can still cause harm with our words.
Watch what you say, say what you mean, and mean what you say.
We are all inevitably prone to hurting someone with our words, even when it is unintentional. No one can live their life walking on eggshells every single day – that is just not realistic. But one choice we can all make is to be aware of what we are saying and its impact on others. After all, words have started and ended wars.
We can think before we speak and choose words that we actually truly mean to use. Think about how your words will sound and be interpreted by the recipient.
Silence can be golden.
Ask yourself, do I really mean to say what I am saying, or am I too rushed or careless right now for the right words? Sometimes it’s best to say nothing at all! And ask yourself, are the words you want to speak necessary for someone to hear, or are you suppressing emotions of your own and looking for an outlet to let them out? Are you healing emotional hurt of your own and seeking a place to take it out on someone else?
Think before you speak and know that you do not always have to fill the silence.
Choose words for kindness.
Be the better person, connect to your higher self and make a point to use your words to make others feel good, not bad.
As Blaise Pascal wrote, “Kind words do not cost much. They never blister the tongue or lips. They make other people good-natured. They also produce their own image on men’s souls, and a beautiful image it is.”
Choose to be one who makes a beautiful image.