Words, words, words! What do they really mean?

Some of us may be familiar with the phrase, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” Well, I think we all have learned that name calling does hurt; in fact, it stings, and that sting may linger for a very long time.

In the book Words Can Change Your Brain,’ Andrew Newberg, M.D. and Mark Robert Waldman write:

“a single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress.” 

Now take a breath, and let that sink in.  A single word can actually alter the actions one may take and the emotions one may feel. Let us take, for example, the word ‘smart.’ The next time someone calls you smart, or intelligent, take a moment to bring awareness to how that makes you feel, and what actions you find yourself taking after hearing the compliment. Then try the same experiment with a negative word, like stupid or ignorant. What are your feelings and your actions then?

We use words unthinkingly all day long, giving little thought to what we are saying or who we are saying it to. Words just come spewing out of our mouths. But perhaps we give more thought to the words we say than we realize? In fact, we often choose our words carefully, perhaps in order to manipulate a situation, to get things moving in our favor. Is there anything wrong with that? I guess it depends on the context. We’re all human, each of us will inevitably utter words that will  hurt someone else’s feelings, intentionally or not. The key is to be aware of your words and how they can affect another person, other people, or yourself.

I often re-read the book,  The Four Agreements’  by Don Miguel Ruiz. The first agreement is:

Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”

Obviously, easier said than done, but I’m challenging myself to take this on. What do you say, do you feel like a challenge?