I grew up hearing the saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words could never hurt me.” As I grew to adulthood and became honest with my pain in life, I had to admit that words do hurt. Words can hurt so deeply that recovery time is often much longer than the time needed for a broken bone to heal.
For some of us healing has taken most of our lives, while others struggle to embrace the healing because they have been hurt so deeply. For many of us the pains that are the deepest and the most difficult to heal from, are pains caused by words.
On the other hand, words can build us up to believe in ourselves. We grow to be confident, hopeful and caring because of words spoken to us. Such words continue to inspire us long after they were spoken. Think about the words you heard while growing up that inspired you to be the person you are today. Think of the words you heard recently that are inspiring you right now. The people who spoke those words are easy to recall.
I recall my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Woodman, speaking some hopeful words to me at a time when most of the words I heard at home were painful and demeaning. To this day when I reflect on the people who positively impacted my life as I was growing up, Mrs. Woodman is the first person who comes to mind.
In the same way I embraced the positive words spoken to me and allowed them to influence my life, I also had to decide to let go of the hurt caused by negative words spoken to me. I decided that with God’s help I have the power to choose to free myself of the pain caused by hurtful words spoken to me. I would not say I am completely free but I am getting there.
You may be reflecting on the words you heard growing up and how they impacted your life previously and perhaps to this day. But what I encourage you to think about is the power of the words we speak toward others.
Every time you use words to judge or demean others, you inflict pain. To refer to another person as stupid or dumb is to cause deep hurt. If we are honest, sometimes that is our intention because we feel hurt or inconvenienced by them. But that does not make it right. We may be able to ask for forgiveness, but we cannot take back the pain.
Every time we use words that show respect, value and appreciation for others, we build them up. These people enjoy being around us because they know they can trust us to not intentionally cause them pain by our words.
The question is, what kind of person are you with your words? Do others feel safe and valued around you, or do they feel unsafe and disrespected by the words you use to communicate with them? Don’t assume your words are always positive. Ask the people who are around you on a regular basis how they experience your words.
We may never be able to decide how and whom our words might influence, but we can certainly decide what the influence would be. We have the power to choose to be positive and uplifting with our words.
Think about one person whose positive words have influenced your life and thank them. You can call, text, Facebook or, if you are feeling really nostalgic, you can even send them a hand-written note.
Also think of someone who needs to hear some positive words and do the same; contact them and share those positive uplifting words with them.
Words. They can lift you. They can bring you down.
I challenge you to strive to be known as someone whose words lift up others.
If you would like help in achieving your goals as a leader or in any area of your life, call us at 208-880-0307 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule a complimentary coaching session. To read Errol’s other posts, visit Christ-Centered Life Coaching.