Sunday, January 18, 2009


There's a song I like called Love This Time with some lyrics that always stick in my mind.

"You can cut me down with just one word or say the sweetest things I've ever heard".

The power of words.  Do we really know how much power they wield?  A parent tells a child he's stupid.  If he hears that enough times, he comes to believe it.  A bunch of boys tell a girl she's ugly.  She not only believes it, she grows up with a negative self image she might never turn positive.  A husband takes a snipe at his wife for some minor infraction leading her to lose confidence in herself and her ability to make her own decisions.  And all because of words.

I've always believed that words do more damage than physical blows.  You can hit someone over and over again and still he'll get back on his feet.  He may have some bruises but they'll fade in time.  But words?  No, I think words can last a lifetime.  A person stores them away in a file in the brain and some event will trigger them, push them into our Inbox.  Oh that's right, I can't do anything right.  Oh that's right, I'm ugly, so no amount of makeup is going to make me look good.  Oh that's right, I'm stupid--I really can't get that job I wanted.

Mental health professionals strive to fix this negative thinking, to undo the damage caused by negative programming.  Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't.  Words stick to the brain like crazy glue; it takes some serious chiseling to get them off.

What works best is prevention, not using words that hurt in the first place.  A friend of mine once said of someone I know, "It sounds like he is careless with words."  Careless.  Yes.

We should all strive to choose our words carefully.

1 comment:

  1. Excellent, excellent post. This is all so true, and if everyone realized the power we have with our words, we'd be more careful before wielding them.