The Power of a Single Word
Language is a powerful thing; much more powerful than most people realize.
The simple words we use can instruct, assist, uplift, or discourage, tear down, and offend. By using different tones, facial expressions, and even volumes, we can convey different meanings, change our message from positive to negative, and even alert someone to danger.
Language has been used to elevate one’s status, convey meaning to different groups of people in a variety of ways, and even change one’s identity.
One’s use of words can land them a job or cause them to be rejected, calm a woman’s spirit or inflame it, calm a child’s fears or cause them, and even to mend relationships or end them.
There are even a number of sayings about words. I’m sure you’ll recognize them.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
“Actions speak louder than words.”
“A picture is worth a thousand words.”
It’s easy to downplay the effect words have on us and others. If we were to really admit how strong the power of words have over us, we would also have to take responsibility for all of those words that have escaped without our permission, and all of those we didn’t say.
What makes the biggest difference to you?
The Effect Words Have on People
With a single word we can change the entire outlook of a person, make them feel anything we’d like, and even change life as they know it.
The words “I love you” or “I appreciate you” may mean everything to an individual who has never heard them before. Even “I’m sorry” when you don’t feel like you did anything wrong could be just the opening someone needs to apologize themselves.
I want you to consider single words. I’m not talking about a phrase, a sentence, a paragraph, or even an entire story, but the effect that any one of these single words might have on everything you’ve always thought and believed, and how you feel about the future.
Consider each of them separately if you will, rather than as a list, to truly understand their power.
Of course, some of these words are going to mean more to some of you than others. You may have a personal connection, you may remember a moment, a smell, a color, or a specific person in your life, and some of you may be brought to tears.
If words didn’t have the effect on us that they do, writers would have no future, there would be no reason to record anything, and books would not be so treasured.
Even the words of toddlers and elementary students are put on refrigerators all over the world to remember, to reminisce, and to show our children how proud we are of them.
Of course the actions that go along with the words you use are important, but without words, there would be no meaning.
Positive Words and What They Mean
When you read the words “beautiful, helpful, successful, forgiveness, hired, hope, happiness, loved, trusted, and understood,” hopefully you felt good things.
When you say positive things to others, you give them hope, you help them to feel good themselves, and you may even be giving them a reason for living.
Suicide is one of the leading causes of death for young adults between the ages of 20 to 24, taking the lives of at least 35,000 individuals every year.
For many of these people, they simply don’t believe that they are loved, that they are worth anything, or that there is any reason for them to continue being on Earth because no one will notice when they are gone anyway.
All of their lives they are likely hearing all of the negative words you read above. (NIMH)
But studies show that one positive statement towards an individual intending to commit suicide can save as many as 50% of these individuals. Most people who commit suicide (or want to) don't want to die; they just want to stop hurting. (HelpGuide)
People need positivity in their lives, and words are one of the strongest ways they can get it. As many individuals don’t get the support they need or desire from their loved ones, they seek out the attention, acceptance, and love of all others in the world.
You can be a positive influence in another’s life just by offering them a “good morning,” a simple compliment or some words of appreciation, or even a “thank you.”
Your words have much more power than you believe.
Negative Words and What They Mean
Instead of support and positivity, those in this world have been trained to take care of themselves. “If you don’t do it, no one else is going to, right?”
However, marketing, advertising, and the media show us every day that we are not as good as we can be.
We should be achieving more, making more money, and wearing more expensive clothes. If we are not driving the expensive car, getting the expensive engagement ring, or even buying jewelry for our loved ones on important holidays, we are not successful.
Everyone seems to be driven towards a goal that most don’t even care for, simply because they think they are supposed to. However, because they are fighting for the “ultimate” dream, too many fail or are driven into the ground trying to get there.
This leaves just about everyone feeling sorry for themselves, angry, with a low self-esteem, and absolutely no confidence, which comes out in the way they treat others.
So people are then calling others names, belittling them, blaming them for things they have not done, and in general, overreacting to everyday situations, essentially tearing others apart with their words to feel better about themselves.
Have you heard about the common pattern of yelling? The boss yells at his employee, who then goes home and yells at his wife, who then yells at her children, who then yell at and kick the dog.
Negative words are a contagious, painful, searing disease that spreads rapidly in an effort to release anger, and many times avoid accountability.
What would happen, do you think, if instead each person made an extra effort to be friendly, helpful, kind and encouraging? What if individuals made an effort to keep others from feeling the way they do and offered kind words instead of criticism?
The world would be a different place.
I’m not saying that words have the power to create world peace, but might it be possible?
Your words, especially your negative words, have a power over people and over situations that you would never believe. Make a point to watch the consequences of your negative words in the lives of others, and then make a change and watch what happens when you are friendly instead.
Everyone creates their own environment and their own situations.
Constantly yelling, screaming, criticizing and blaming others for your feelings and problems will only create that many more. You will feel that much worse as people begin avoiding you, disliking you, and treating the way you felt like everyone treated you in the first place.
It’s kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy that many get wrapped up in. So create a positive one!!
Say “good morning,” “good afternoon,” “how are you doing?” “please,” and “thank you,” and the world around you will start to change.
Treat others with respect, ask after their families and their well-being, offer your help, and offer encouraging words, and just as quickly, that environment you thought was so negative will change before your eyes.
What’s funny is that the power of simple words have more power over you than you think.
What easier for you?
© 2014 Victoria Van Ness