Words can destroy! They have power. How many of us would love to take back some (or many) of the words we have said over the years to people? How many of us have just wanted to put some duct tape over our mouth or wished we weren’t so good at blurting out things without thinking? Sometimes it feels good (for about 10 seconds) to just say it or rip into someone and let them have it, doesn’t it? For just a moment we think we know better, we think we are right or more justified than the other person. I know that I could have done with a standing order of duct tape over the years.

And what about texting?! Maybe we are more or less careful with our spoken words, but what about all those inflamed texts (or emails) we send out into cyberspace never to return? We can’t take them back and the written word remains and can even be used against us later. It’s easy to hide behind a computer or cell phone and type out our anger and literally throw word daggers at people. How many people have been damaged by a careless text message sent out? How many people have been humiliated by the text message of one person put into the hands of several people?

Why Our Words Matter

So much damage can be done. When we fling out our angry, judgmental, or discouraging words at people without a second thought. The impact of those words is received like a dagger to the heart. All the negative energy of those words can have the consequence of completely defeating the self-worth of the person. We don’t think about our words they just spill out with all our defensive anger and frustration like water from a firehose. Words have the power to build up or destroy and lives can be impacted (and destroyed) forever just because of a few careless words that were spoken.

It Only Takes a Minute

Every day we have the opportunity to impact the life of another person. We just don’t know what is happening in the lives of those around us. We could be walking by someone in the street, talking to a cashier at the grocery store, sitting beside a coworker and never know what is really going on in their lives. There is always someone who is going through a difficult time. So, we have a choice. We can choose to just walk right by them, carry on with business as usual, or we can take a few moments to say something encouraging to them and make a difference.

We just never know what a simple few words of encouragement can or will do. We don’t know to what extent those words will change the course of their lives. Will those words be the reason they have hope again? Will those words give them what they needed to not give up? Maybe those words will make them feel worthy again and valuable to others. In an extreme example, those encouraging words might mean that the person chooses not to end his life (as he may have planned to do) just because of a few encouraging words.

Encouragement of Others Begins in Our Head

We sling our words around often because we just don’t think or, at least we don’t think the right way. Firstly, we are often too wrapped up in our own lives, our personal issues, and insecurities to be thinking about what’s going on with others. We want others to concern themselves with how we’re feeling or what we are going through and we don’t take the time to step back and look at things from the other person’s perspective. And, of course, our Super Ego gets in the way.

Getting the thinking right in our own head is a good start to reining in our words and taming them. What are we thinking inside our complicated heads? What are we telling ourselves and how are we speaking to ourselves? Most likely there is a heated argument going on inside. Maybe we have conversations  like the following:

You: “I have a great idea. I would like to start a business!”

Bully voice: “Are you kidding me? You don’t know anything about business! What makes you think you can do that?”

Encouraging voice: “I think you can do it! Just get the information you need and go for it!  You can do it!”

Bully voice: “Stop being a dreamer! Come back to earth and be practical! That’s only for some people, but not for you.”

And on it goes, back and forth until you don’t know what to think anymore. So, what do you do? Well, who’s in charge? just put an end to this bickering inside the head and decide what thoughts you will tolerate and which ones you will not. If we are having a war in our minds, we are certainly in no position to be able to be encouraging and uplifting to others. We need to change the thinking to change the words we speak.

We Hurt Those Who Are Closest to Us

Sometimes we get it into our head that we can say whatever we want to those closest to us because they know we love them. This is a very dangerous thought pattern. Yes, we love them and yes we can patch things up – to a point. But what happens when we go too far? What happens when we have sent word daggers one too many times? And what about the damage we do to them – to our spouse or to our children?

We can damage these relationships too. It is so easy to find fault with others, particularly our loved ones. We can change the course of their lives for better or for worse. Everyone has a tipping point. The danger with misusing words with those close to us is that we interact with them much more often on a daily basis and have far more opportunities to encourage or to discourage. We also know their weaknesses (their hot buttons) and use these against them.

At the end of the day, we have many more opportunities to create bridges or rifts. We can be a bearer of peace or a wrecking ball; it’s really our choice.

Hurting People Hurt People

We wonder why we end up in these never-ending cycles of hurting one another with our words. Words get tossed around like leaves on a fall day. Sometimes we are condescending, sometimes we are teasing family members at their expense. Sometimes we use our words to force them to agree with us or to just criticize or complain (nag, whine).  And we don’t give our words a second thought. They just leave our mouth and fly out like darts. Then we are surprised when we get hit by other word darts and we get all defensive. There is a saying that says:

Hurting people hurt people.

How true that is. We are wired to defend ourselves against attacks. We move from defense to offense fairly quickly.

Another saying goes like this:

Treat a man (or woman) as he is and you make him worse. But treat a man as he could be and you make him what he should be.

What amazing wisdom!  What if we could our eyes off of the situation, the offense, the problem and focus on the person and how he or she could be? What if we took our focus off our feelings and emotions and made a decision to use our words to be constructive and encouraging?

It is interesting that dogs always seem to have friends and most people enjoy being around them. Why is that? Well, for one thing, a dog tends to wag his tail more than his tongue. A dog focuses on connection and not conflict. Maybe there is something we can learn from dogs?

The Takeaway

Words have more power than we like to think. They have the power to change the course of lives, to build up people and nations or to destroy them. They leave our mouth and we can never ever take them back once they are released. But we also have power over our words and our thinking. We too can impact the course of lives in a positive way by our words. We don’t have to be a victim of our thinking or our words and others do not have to either. Everything begins in our head with how we choose to think about ourselves and others. Be the change you want to see!

Have a great day!

Read Also

The Seeds of Possibility

How to Get People to Cooperate

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Diana Lynne’s passions are family, travel, self-improvement, pursuing a debt-free/financially free life. She also loves hanging out with family, friends and being with her dog Skye. Diana is a Quebec City girl. who loves living life.  You can connect with her through Livingandstuff.ca