Power of Words
I remember the old saying that went, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I would like to believe that words don’t hurt us or those around us, but I believe that words have immense power. Now what kind of power am I talking about, well it’s the kind of power that can build one up or tear another down.
Words and the way we use them not only say something to others about us and who we are, but they have an influence on what we start believing. When you start saying something long enough or even hear something for a long time, you start to believe, regardless if it is true. I’ve been thinking about this lately, while in the midst of raising one little girl that will become part of the future generation. The words they hear us speak to them, about ourselves, and others are going to stick and become the building blocks for what they start to believe. This brings me to a story.
I remember while growing up my mother would put quotes on the fridge. One day the quote read, ‘I can do hard things.’’ Not only did this quote stay there for years, but she would say it to us when we were struggling with something. Something as small as these five little words made a big impact on me as I would start to eventually say them to myself when faced with a challenge. For me, words of encouragement brought strength and built my self-esteem. To this day I often think “I can do hard things.”
This has brought me to think about the words we are saying to everyone around us. The words our children hear us say about ourselves or the words we say to our children. Are they thoughtful, positive, and focusing in on the good. Or are the words we say pinning them against another person. For example, “You were so great up there during your routine, you were the best one.” Instead of “You did great, I can tell you have worked so hard.” These two compliments speak differently to a child or anyone for that matter. They are something to really think about and contemplate next time we want to encourage another.
I’ve noticed something that has started to jump out at me when I’m around others. It happens when you meet a new person or run into an old friend. The things I hear most and first are, “You look great, or skinny, like you haven’t had a baby, like you aren’t pregnant, like a stick, amazing, etc. I’m not sure why, but it seems to me that our focus is all our appearance these days. I want that to change! I feel that these phrases that so commonly come out of our mouths are actually causing us more pain and issues. What issues am I taking about? Well I’m talking about low self-esteem, body image, body shaming, eating disorders and anxiety. It is when we say these things to another person, although we think we are being complimentary, they can be in fact hurtful. For example, when someone says you look so skinny, what do most people immediately think. They think I must have not been skinny before. Or for me I was told you look like you didn’t have a baby. This was painful because I wanted to look like I had a baby. In fact, this person knew I had lost my baby and wanted her more than anything, but didn’t think first about what they were saying. Words can hurt you or make you feel like a million bucks, but it’s the way we say them.
When we get with friends, what is the first things we say? What is our focus? Is it about others or how we look? Is it about something we are striving to learn, or a way we can help the world become better. I challenge each of you in a world full of critique, perfectionism, and self-gratification that we change what we talk about with others. Let’s talk about what we are learning, how we are growing, or how we helped someone that was having a bad day. These things inspire and cause one to feel uplifted and better about who they are. We can build others self-esteem and love for who they uniquely are by choosing to change our focus. When we do this it will turn help our future generation to feel empowered and find strength in their beauty and worth. Remember words have power.
“Speak to your children as if they are the wisest, kindest, most beautiful, magical humans on earth, for what they believe is what they will become.” Brooke Hamilton