Thursday, July 24, 2008

Word Power

Words have a weird kind of power. As soon as you say something, it's there forever. Sure, the actual sound of the words are gone but the fact that you said them and the fact that people heard cannot be erased. Ever. And even if you say something to no one other than the four walls of an empty room, you'll still know those words came out of your mouth. You'll always know that.

It's amazing how far back people can remember what was said to them. Sometimes words don't have to be even remotely remarkable in order for them to make an impression. You'd be surprised at the random little remarks you don't even remember saying that someone else does.

Why is it that people are so afraid to talk about things which scare them? Does speaking the words actually mean that thing is true? Or going to happen?

Why is it that people are comforted by prayer? Why do people turn to prayer in times of need? What is it about prayer that feels so powerful?

It's words. When we pray, we are actually, physically speaking to G-d. And we, as physical beings, put our faith in physical actions. They mean something to us.

And this is why we have to be so careful with this power we were given - this power of speech.

Over the internet it's a little bit easier because you're not actually saying words. You're typing them. But even then, you have to be careful. Conversations there really can be kept forever - physically. Anything you say about anyone or anything is on record. Even on a blog - if you comment and then decide to delete it - well, sure, it's gone from the blog, but anyone who read it before it was deleted still knows it was there. You can't delete something from someone's memory.

But even more than who or what it is you're speaking about - words can have a profound effect on the speaker, as well. Even if no one actually gets hurt by what you say, even if whomever or whatever you're speaking about never ever knows you said those things, you know you said them. Those words actually came out of your mouth or your fingers actually typed them - however it was said. You did something in order to express something and that's enough.

Obviously not everything people say is negative, but it's so incredibly important to think before you speak and to control yourself before you say something you might really regret, even if you think no harm was done by it. Because you will be effected, whether you think so or not.

On the flip side, words unspoken have weight, too. We shouldn't be afraid to speak out if we need to and we shouldn't be afraid to express ourselves. Words kept inside but never spoken still exist - they're like cooped up balls of energy just bursting to break free and wreak havoc. That's when you really have to be careful.

And, from yet another angle, it's amazing how strong an effect words can have on someone who is upset. A few simple, kind words and you can bring out a smile. Words may not fix problems, but they let people know you're there. They remind people they have a friend who cares. And that's super important.

We have to pick and choose what we say carefully, but without driving ourselves crazy. Obviously you don't have to sit there for five hours thinking before speaking each word that comes out of your mouth, but you shouldn't flippantly just spew things either - especially at times like the heat of the moment.

Words hurt. Words heal. Words stick.

Words are forever, whether you like it or not.


Frayda said...

For example: I have a note that a teacher wrote to me in 8th grade that complimented me. I read it when I feel down. I'll bet she doesn't remember writing that note, but I sure do.

Inspired said...

I have a similar anecdote, in which a teacher wrote a note in 8th grade that spurred me to be heavily involved in community activities years later.
And, unfortunately, negative words have staying power, too.

"Look out how you use proud words.
When you let proud words go, it is
not easy to call them back.
They wear long boots, hard boots; they walk off proud;
they can't hear you calling—
Look out how you use proud words."

—Carl Sandburg, American poet and essayist, Primer Lesson, 1922