“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.”
Everyone growing up, at some point or another, has heard this colloquial saying. It’s a rhyme from elementary school taught to children in order for them to learn to grow thicker skin, and deal with the negative in life. Unfortunately, this phrase does not always ring true. Words are the foundation of our lives, and our only means of communicating in society. It is through words that we understand the intangible ideas of love, hate, hope, and fear. Only through the connection of words do our emotions make sense. The spoken–or written–word can build a person up, and break a person down.
One word, in the moment it takes to leave the lips, can forever change a life.
Imagine the possibilities. Take a moment to feel how words affect the spirit. Consider the ramifications of these uplifting words, “you’re having a baby, you got accepted to college, you finished your Master’s, you’re a mom, you’re a dad, you’re a grandparent.”
Remember back to moments when hope-filled words of wonder, joy, and love forever changed our perceptions. Suddenly hope brightens, love blooms in our hearts, and a wonderfully bright future is seen. Our hearts are filled with joy as we begin to imagine the new wonders that will come into our lives.
On the reverse side, words can create unimaginable chaos in the mind. Simple phrases, laced with anger, hate, or regret, can split the soul in half. The world crashes around us in mere seconds.
Take a moment, just a moment, to remember the worst words in life, and the desperation that followed. For a moment, feel the heart as it changes with these certain words, “you have cancer, your loved one was in an accident, you’re going through foreclosure, you don’t meet our qualifications, your parent is dying, you didn’t get the job.”
Life changes in an instant, and we are thrown into stages of grief we never thought possible.
But, in those moments, it is the heart that changes forever.
Because the spoken word is our foundation, it holds power over every aspect of our lives. Moving on from disastrous words doesn’t take moments, it takes years. Sometimes, we simply cannot move on, remaining stuck in our hurt, pain, and grief. Life pushes ever forward, but the blow from failure or hurtful words continues to have a disastrous crippling effect.
Words affect society; they affect us.
Words not only affect adults, they mold the mind of children, as well. Which is something to always take into consideration. How we talk to our children will lead their path, either toward success, or toward failure. That goal is up to us, the parents. It is our children’s future self-worth that is called into play.
No, what I am saying is nothing new, but it is, unfortunately, easily forgotten.
When children hear, “you’re intelligent, you’re beautiful, you’re artistic, you’re talented, you are worthy,” they grow up believing these things to be true. They grow up knowing that in this world of uncertainty and strife, where obstacles will forever line their paths, they have people in their corner. Our children need us to lead their way, to be their cheerleaders. Encouraging words will uplift them, enabling them to see the future–to see a promising life filled with achievements. They will grow knowing great accomplishments, and great failures, but their hope will inevitably line their walk in life.
They will hold strong in that hope for the future.
Take it from the other side. See the negative side of the argument, and realize how harmful our words can be in retrospect. If our children hear, “you’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re worthless, you’re stupid,” what will we be setting them up for in life? It’s the moment in which the brightest stars are crushed as we set insurmountable expectations in their minds, and create lifelong struggles that may never be overcome.
This is not the life we want for our children. It is not the life they deserve.
So, choose words carefully. Make them uplifting, allowing children to envision a great tomorrow. Allow them to dream big dreams, so that they can change the world. Always remember, uplifting words help strengthen the mind. Negative words destroy self-worth.
What we want is to enable the future generation to believe in the ability to succeed. Teach our children to believe. Teach them to dream.
And, when in doubt, always remember: sticks and stones might break bones, but words will forever harm both heart and mind.