Word Wise: Words Can Hurt for a Lifetime
Words Last a Lifetime
Let me share a childhood story about how words that seemed meaningless to someone else completely shattered my self-esteem in an instant.
I was about eight years old. Some relatives came to visit. I was minding my own business, on the floor, in the corner, putting a puzzle together when I overheard two adults engaged in light chatter. I happened to glance over at them and saw that they were looking at me when I heard Adult #1 say to Adult #2, “She’s turning out to be a pretty little girl.” And then I heard Adult #2 say, “Well, don’t tell her that or she might believe you.” Then the two of them giggled and went on to talk about other things. Little did they realize they had just shattered me to pieces, much like the puzzle I was working so hard to put together.
As a child, I relied on adults to guide me through life and I processed the comment made by Adult #2 to mean I was ugly. From that moment on, whenever anyone complimented me, I would politely say thank you, but behind my response was a damaged little girl who felt like people were just complimenting me to be nice. To this day, you don’t see me in a lot of photographs, because I don’t want to “mess up” the photo with my ugly mug.
Resolved But Not Settled
It's kind of like what happens when people lose over 100 pounds and still feel overweight. It's kind of like what happens when you hammer nails into a wall and then when you pull out the nails, the holes are still there. The hurt stays even when the issue is resolved.
Friends, after reading this confession, please don’t respond with, “But, Marlene, you’re so pretty!” Seriously, please don’t do that. My brain still processes such comments to mean, “You’re ugly, but I just want to say something nice to you.”
Yeah, I’ve got issues and I’m working on them all.
I share this confession with you to say that words are powerful. What we say to someone today could affect how that person feels for a lifetime. Recently, I heard a mother telling her child he was “stupid.” I felt bad for the child, because I know from personal experience that there is a possibility of that child growing up all their life feeling unintelligent and uninspired to do great things.
Note: I’m not claiming that parents are the sole reason for a child’s mal-adjustment. Certainly, other environmental interactions, such as schools, playground activities, and sports play a critical role as well. Parents who use un-inspirational words merely contribute to the issue of a child’s discontent.
A Word About Respect and Directing Children
When you have respect for someone, your words tend to be more positive, consequently, people tend to respond to you in a favorable way.
Respect and how it relates to words
If your child respects you, he or she has a desire to follow your directions, good or bad, so you must be careful about the words you use to direct them.
If children respect the parents who direct them, they will take the direction to heart. So when parents are berating and belittling children, the children may grow up with little self-respect. They may have trouble properly identifying their worth and character. Parents who have children who are lazy and mal-adjusted should take a moment to think about the words he or she may have said to their children over the course of their lives. In doing so, parents may find that they have spoken words that cause their children to feel uninspired or unwilling to assimilate.
Parents who have children who shine and do well, deserve a pat on the back for the encouraging words they use to build up and polish their children.
Disrespect and how it relates to words
If your child disrespects you, he or she may not want to listen to you or follow any directions you give them.
If children disrespect the parents who direct them, it is likely the children will throw the parents' directions out the window, disregard them, and rise in spite of what the parents say to them. It is still likely, and most probable that these children may fall in spite of disregarding the parents' directions as they try to make it through life on their own accord.
Words are Powerful
My mother use to say, “If you can’t say anything nice to someone, don’t say anything at all.” I suspect a lot of parents say that to their children.
Biblical people are commanded to speak kind words to one another.
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”
– Ephesians 4:29 New International Version
Now, as an adult looking back at the day I heard those adults talking, I suspect they did not have malicious intensions. I suspect they were simply two people chit-chatting and joking around, not realizing I was there, hearing and taking it all in. I respected them, so their words were held in the highest regard. They didn’t realize a little girl was processing their words and assimilating those words into a form that would become the very essence of that little girl’s being.
So I caution people to be careful what is said to and around others. You never know who is listening and how they are processing what you say.
Words are powerful tools. Positive words build people up. Negative words tear people down. Be mindful, be aware, and use words wisely.
Disclaimer About Words
I’m not a psychologist. I’ve never trained to be a psychologist, nor do I play one on TV. The observation I share here is based solely on personal experience. I share my story and experience with the hope that you may become more aware of the power of words and realize how you have the power to use words for the goodness of mankind.
Watch This Inspirational Video About Words
People have watched the following video over 3,356, 246 times. It is an inspirational message about words and how words are powerful enough to help you achieve your dreams.
In this video, award winning actor, producer, singer, and songwriter Will Smith shares how words affect the outcome of everything we do. Smith says, "There's no reason to have a Plan B because it distracts from Plan A."
Watch this short video and be inspired to accomplish your lifelong goals.