July 22, 2015

2 Examples of the Power of Words

I write quite often about the influence of words. Why? In my opinion, there is no more important subject on the face of the earth. How we speak to ourselves, and how others speak to us, has a long-lasting effect. Here’s one familiar case study:

Cinderella must have been criticized continually by her self-centered stepmother and stepsisters. It didn’t matter that the criticism was untrue or exaggerated. The message she received and believed was that she was worthless.

As far as we can tell, Cinderella was born into the nobility. Her birthright was to have domestic help and interact with other nobles. Her selfish stepfamily mentally beat her down until she lost the vision of her inner beauty and legacy. They treated her like a servant, spoke to her like a servant, and that’s what she became.

Who knows? If her relatives had been kinder and less egocentric, Cinderella might have had the confidence to leave her restricted life much earlier. As it was, she probably didn’t even realize that rejecting the household domestic’s life was an option.

Of course, illustrations of the importance of how we speak to people are even more relevant in real-life situations. I have known a variety of individuals, including myself, who were scarred for years by cruel feedback:


This friend still remembers how a selfish, uncaring person spoke to her years ago. He said she was plain, untalented, and not likely to get married. It was years before Jane was able to push past the unkindness and open herself to a committed relationship.


He was abused in many ways during his childhood. He still remembers every detail of the mistreatment. It has been a part of his psyche for decades. It defined him until a few years ago. That’s when he finally decided he was not going to allow the marginalization of his younger years to continue shaping his character.  Healing is still an uphill battle, though.

What is the Solution?

There are numerous methods for speaking in a positive manner. It’s more difficult than using the default setting of negativity; but, it can be done. Joyce Meyer cites the following suggestions:
1. Use words to bless, encourage, and edify.
We shouldn’t allow our speech to be influenced by difficult feelings or circumstances. For instance, I try not to let illness keep me from giving people compliments. A few words of kindness is all it takes to make someone smile and bring the light back into our own minds.
Even if we feel only frustration or anger in regard to a certain person, there is usually something optimistic we can say. We might compliment their outfit, their project, their children, and so forth.
2. Show gratitude.
Sometimes, we have to go through it to get to it. In the meantime, there is always something to be thankful for:
  • We’re sick, but we have medical insurance.
  • It’s storming outside, but our power is still on.
  • Our kids are driving us crazy, but they’re healthy.
  • Our supervisor is unfair, but we have a job.

My Conclusion

Words can either build us up or tear us down. They may paint dark pictures of the limited life that the listener supposedly deserves. On the other hand, they may portray more hopeful scenarios that edify the listener. Each time we open our mouths, we choose darkness or light. That’s why it’s crucial to think before we speak.

Do your words demolish or improve egos? Do they speak life, or death?

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