“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become in the hands of one who knows how to combine them.”
― Nathaniel Hawthorne
The moment I came across Deserving Décor I knew I wanted to help. I thought about how I could contribute beyond a fundamental donation and came up with writing. My words would be used to help families in need by sharing their stories and bring awareness to their struggles. The articles would reach new volunteers and spread the word about the organization. Three years later, I’m happy to announce I am still writing for Deserving Decor.
I realize now more than ever words are powerful. They can transform a piece of paper into a mystifying world brimming with adventure. They can heal the soul or corrupt a nation. In short, words can be our most valuable tool. But, we must select our words carefully given we never really know the affect they will have on others.
I remember the story of former President, Jimmy Carter and his high school teacher, Julia Coleman. She once told the class “Study hard, one of you could become the President of the United States!” Those words encouraged Carter to do his best and in 1977, he was sworn in as the 39th President of the United States of America; quoting Julia Coleman in the opening of his inauguration speech.
A statement like Coleman’s is meant to inspire and offer support, but there is a dark side to our words when used out of anger or frustration; the comments we make in judgment or disapproval. No doubt we’ve all said things we regret, but followed-up with a sincere apology they are often forgotten. Unfortunately, there are times when you just can’t take back what was said. Do I need to bring up Paula Deen?
In a situation where a single word can butcher a career, imagine what an entire statement can do. In the case of Jimmy Carter it created a leader; presented in negative terms, it can crush the human spirit.
Words have an incredible power to affect how we see and feel about ourselves. We all know the pain of being on the receiving end of a cruel remark. Make no mistake, words can hurt. We just don’t always see the damage. There are no broken bones or black eyes to point out. The injuries are strictly internal. But it happens and verbal abuse is a thing. Words used for name-calling, blaming, belittling and shaming are forms of verbal abuse. It is often difficult to identify and easily overlooked. However, research demonstrates that the long-term effects of verbal and emotional abuse can be just as devastating as physical abuse. It can lead to anxiety, depression, or eating disorders and in extreme cases, suicide. Our words carry enormous weight and they must be used responsibly.
The more words I write the easier it is to recognize their impact. Our words are our power. How will you use yours?
For more information on verbal abuse Click here.