by Michelle Rubio
Embarrassment. Shame. Guilt. Fear. What brings us to feel this way? Words. Words offer a window into the depths of our hearts and minds. You can’t take words back even if you try. Bruises and broken bones heal but the damage inflicted by words can linger for a lifetime. In other words, physical wounds can heal but if you don’t deal with your emotional wounds, it can affect you forever. We are told to control our actions because actions can speak louder than words, but words provide us with the insight as to why certain actions happen.
Words have the power to inspire but can also be the seed in which doubt grows. But what gives them so much power?
Meaning. Without meaning, words would just be jumbled up letters. Meaning bridges the gap between sender and receiver.
Take the letters o and n, for example. Put them together to say “No” and it’s usually associated with rejection. In the right context, it can be the word that changes your entire life (a proposal, a great job offer).
Now, switch those letters to spell “On” and that can be a word to describe placement or approval. For example, when you say “It’s on!” it means you’re ready to take on a challenge and “Make sure to check on the table” lets you know where you can find an object.
Another example: take the letters k, e, a, and t. Put them together to form the word “take” and it means to get or catch. Now put them together to make the word Kate and it identifies a person. Add an s to the beginning and now you have an action: skate.
Words are what classify right from wrong, pretty from ugly, hot from cold, and whether our motives are good or bad. They take on the task of describing and carrying the weight of our emotions, motives, and thoughts. They are what make feelings tangible to others.
As Joseph Addison so eloquently said, “Words, when well chosen, have so great a force in them that a description often gives us more lively ideas than the sight of things themselves.”
When you hear that someone close to you has died, your brain processes that as “I’ll never see her again.” We might get hurt when someone tells us we’re overweight (even when we know that to be true) because we can interpret that as “I have a noticeable flaw” or “They must think I’m lazy.”
The list can go on and on with examples showing that words can be the difference between insult and flattery. In the middle of strife, you may find yourself saying something hurtful to a loved one, only to later regret it and ask yourself, “Where did that come from?” The truth of the matter is that it’s something that’s always been there. Even if the words come out by accident, we get a sneak peak into the person’s (or our own) real state of mind.
The same goes for choice of jokes. That’s why we can relate to comedians and their material. Even if some can be stereotypical or hyperbolized, we still laugh because in there lies some truth.
Words bring judgment. They are the only thing to make us feel vulnerable and have the power to bring people together or tear them apart.
So next time, whether it’s in writing or speech, make sure your words reflect what’s in your heart.
Want to share some thoughts about the impact of words on your life (either in writing or otherwise)? Please leave a comment below.
Michelle Rubio is just a college student who enjoys good company, good times, and good music. To learn more about, check out her blog.