“Open your mouth only if what you are going to say is more beautiful than silence.”
Thich Nhat Hanh
Have you ever heard grandma say, “If you have nothing nice to say… say nothing?”
We have a tendency to use words as a weapon or as a means of venting our anger, frustration, and pain. Little do you know, words end up on someone’s territory and leave an often-indelible mark. Words, once hurled, cannot be taken back, and no matter how much we may regret sending them, they have affected someone’s feelings, thus have had their effect and cannot be erased, regardless of apologies, second thoughts, and regrets. We often forget that words have the power to bring out the best or the worst in us; they can elevate us, or they can destroy us.
How many deep wounds have we inflicted and have been inflicted on us by words alone?
Perception is as real as an event, as something that REALLY happened.
Very often, the words that hurt us most come from the people closest to us and from whom we expect love, understanding, and kindness.
When words leave their mark on us
Our perception is what remains forever and makes us develop beliefs on which we base our behavior for a long time in the future or for life.
Perhaps a parent, a relative, a teacher told us:
You are not good enough
You are a mess
You can’t do anything
Or, another epithet or comment that criticized our way of being, has influenced us for years and engraved deep within us limiting beliefs that do not allow us to live our lives authentically.
How to curb the side effects of words that leave a mark
It is important to understand why the words found their way so deep inside us, what they undermined, what doubts they create, and why they lead to us questioning our worth.
Why do they hurt me so much?
This analysis is a crucial step, but it’s also painful, it’s hard work to undertake, but it leads to knowing ourselves better and allowing us to evolve and grow.
It is fundamental to be aware of how deep inside those words reached. Do I let them define me? Do I let them shape the beliefs I will base my decision on in my life? Have they broken or contributed to breaking my self-esteem? Another decision needs to be made: am I choosing the victim or the victorious path?
Don’t get into the rink
It is essential that we stay in our own space without letting negative words carry us away down the road of confrontation. In the conflict rink all that happens is our wounds are amplified, and even if we become “better” at conflict, certainly, it won’t make us feel better or be a better person.
Therefore, we must make a choice and decide: what kind of person do I want to be? Am I different from my “perpetrator” or the same? We must decide which path we want to take. If we want to be carried away by our emotions, we will go into the rink; if we decide to stand up and live trying to follow the serenity we deserve, we follow our path without unnecessary detours.
What is behind words that hurt
When we hurt somebody with words or when words hurt us, it is because those words are driven by deep emotions of pain, fear, anger, resentment, and frustration. Reflecting on the emotions that can trigger hurtful words helps us to understand ourselves and others better. We can thus protect ourselves and also avoid using words as weapons. We become more aware of how we can choose words instead to support, inspire, and improve someone’s life while improving our own.
– Let no bad word come out of your mouth; but if you have any good one, which edifies according to need, say it, that it may confer grace on those who hear it.-
Epistle to the Ephesians 4:29-3