Wounding words. Many people have told me how some words, no matter how or why uttered, pierced their very heart. Sadly, once certain words come out of our mouths, they’re difficult – if not impossible – to take back.
We live in a time when too many folks play fast and loose with their words. Moreover, what we speak, and how we speak, often reflects the condition of our hearts. Some folks, in their pain, just aren’t mindful enough of their words. Others, in their insensitivity and hardness of heart, deliberately aggress with their words. It’s a sad state of affairs, to be sure.
The Power of Words
Words have power. And some have the power to wound. Unfortunately, some wounds to the heart can be nearly mortal. I know many folks who still hear certain words in their heads that nearly decimated them when first uttered. And tragically, those words continue to take a toll.
It’s not just the wounding words we say to another that do damage. Sometimes, we say similar words to ourselves. But the effect is always the same. Loving words have the power to build and grow. But wounding words inherently destroy.
We humans are distinguished by our incredible communicative capacity. We’re inherently relational creatures. And the words we most frequently utter often define the character of our relationships. Similarly, they often define the condition of our hearts.
Words in the Era of Character Dysfunction
My heart aches at the words I so frequently come across on various social media. But perhaps even more troubling is how desensitized we all seem to have become to the many wounding words out there. Sometimes it seems like even the very possibility of civil discourse has evaporated. (See also: Narcissism Desensitization Impairs Recognition.)
I’m even troubled by the words I sometimes see on this blog. But I’ve always been hesitant to exercise strong censorship. You see, right from its inception, there never appeared a need to monitor the words posted here closely. The forum participants actually set a remarkable and enviable standard for decency of discussion. But things have changed in recent years. And perhaps that’s at least partly due to how used to wounding words we’ve all become. My commitment is to be mindful of my own words. And I pray that others be equally mindful.
A Stickler for the Words
Only one of my books, The Judas Syndrome, had an independent editor. And that’s largely because I’m such a stickler for the words. But in recent years, I’ve become even more mindful than ever about what I say and how I say it. So, as I mentioned last week, I have labored greatly over what will likely be my last book. I just have to get the words right. And they simply must be words of healing, growing, building, and empowering. So, I labor. But it’s truly a labor of love. I love fashioning words that might make a positive difference.
Words for Today
Allow me to offer some carefully pondered words for your consideration:
Be mindful of what you say to others and how you say it. And be particularly mindful of the words you say to yourself. I am not advocating either timidity or passivity, here. Quite the contrary. I’m advocating loving assertiveness. Stand up for your legitimate needs with words that confront unseemliness benignly but firmly. And don’t take to heart words uttered by others that reflect the ill health of their own heart. Replace the negative words in your own internal dialogue with words capable of making a positive difference in your life. Remember, words have power. So, be mindful of them.