When I was a kid, I heard, “Sticks and stones may break your bones but words will never hurt you.” I’ve even said that to kids a few times.
The fact of the matter is though, that it’s a complete lie. Words do hurt, because words matter. We try to pretend they don’t, and it’s easy to do until someone flings hurtful words at us. Then we feel the sting, and if they’re hurtful enough, even bleed a little.
I’m reading a very interesting book right now, The Broom of the System, by David Foster Wallace. In it, he talks about how words shape our reality, how words are reality. It’s true. Words carry weight and matter. And as someone who loves words intensely, I think they should.
I encourage my group to build an intention and then say it out loud or write it down. People are more likely to follow through if they do one of those two things instead of just thinking it. Words said out loud or written down carry more weight than ones that rattle around in our brains.
People can be very careless about words they speak or write, as if words are just puffs of air that dissolve into nothingness. They don’t though; they stick around, bouncing around inside another person’s head or heart. If you write something down, you etched it somewhere permanently. It can be shredded or burned, but those words are never really destroyed, because you can’t destroy something that was. The essence remains, even if the object does not.
Because I can carefully craft my words, and it’s something I enjoy doing, I’m aware that my words have great power. I can do great harm with words if I choose to. I instead (mostly) choose to spread positivity, because in the same way that negative words have power, so do positive ones.
Listening, really listening, is the best gift you can give most anyone. Most of us aren’t truly listened to. And I believe that’s one of the greatest word powers; the gift of knowing when to say nothing and just be there.
Choose your words carefully today.
“A bad word whispered will echo a hundred miles”
-Chinese Proverbs quotes