We all have heard the saying that words have power. We have also heard the old adage that ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.’ So, which is it?
Looking back through history, there are many examples of the power of words. The ancient Egyptians, for instance, believe in the power of words. While their writing was done mainly in the pictures which represented thoughts and ideas, the idea of the power behind them is still evident. That is why, Egyptologist believe, that the words for some evil or a curse, are cut into pieces—in other words to render them ineffective.
The Bible has numerous references into the power of words. Take for instances, Hebrews 11:3 ‘God spoke the world into being by the power of his words’. There are also admonishments to ‘do not let unwholesome words come out of your mouths”, (Ephesians 4:29). So, what about the power of your words?
Words are far more than the physical response to the way air moves through our vocal cords. The sounds express the thoughts we have, the beliefs we hold, and how we see the world around us. It is this perception that shapes us into the kind of people we are, or the kind of people we want to be.
Words, when spoken about someone, also shapes the way that we view them. Say for instance you are talking to a trusted friend about someone you are going to meet the first time, their words may give you a biased view about that person, even if you don’t realize it.
If that friend says, “Oh, he/she is one of the most untrustworthy people I’ve ever met.”, then you too, whether you realize it at the time or not, may have already decided that that person has a character flaw that you may not like. Even those who claim to have an open mind, cannot help to be prejudiced, at least to a degree, about that person.
It is difficult in a lot of situations to ‘do one thing and say another’. In most cases, when a person states they are going to do something, and then does the opposite, it casts them in a bad light. But, in reality do we know what happened? Did an emergency of some kind come up that caused the person not to do what they promised? Do we take the time to find out? It could be a totally logical reason why the person did not live up to their word, and we didn’t take the time to care enough to investigate. We simply marked them off the list of trustworthy people.
Today, there is a lot of negativity in the world. The political climate can be volatile and often weighs heavily on people’s minds and thoughts. The economy may be in a down turn and money tight. People are losing their jobs, and this causes a feeling of uncertainty to pervade.
Is this natural? It seems to be, and people are reacting not only in the way they act, but also the words they speak. Everything is negative, everything is dark. Everything is on the downhill slide. How can we change?
This can take some effort. In fact, it can take a lot of work; but, having a positive mindset also affects our actions and our words. But how do you do it? How do you change? At the least, it can take a total shift in out thinking to make that change.
R.J. Palacio states, “We should be remembered for the things we do. The things we do are the most important thins of all. They are more important than what we say or what we look like. The things we do outlast our mortality. The things we do are like monuments that people build to honor heroes…only instead of being made of stone, they’re made of the memories people have of you.”
Unless you are someone famous or notable, like Abraham Lincoln who wrote in the Gettysburg address, “The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here.”, your words may not go down in history. Rather, it is your actions that people will remember.
If you are kind, people will remember. If you are giving, people will remember. If you go down in history for committing a heinous act, people remember. In fact, experts believe, it is the seeking of fifteen minutes of fame that prompts people to commit unbelievable acts of crime. So, it the actions that are remembered, and not the words.
Yet, words do spark us into action at times. So, could it be that these two things are related. Could it be that the thought, idea or believe formed in our minds, translated into words, can then become action? Or could the reverse be true.
There are times in all of our lives when things happen over which we have no control. Our home could catch on fire, or there could be a horrendous flood that wipes out all that we hold dear. It is how we react to these events that defines us, isn’t it?
The same can be said for those toxic people in our lives that seem to suck the life right out of us. How do you relate to those people? Do you turn mean and tell the world what a horrible person that toxic agent is, or do you treat them with kindness? Do you turn into a toxic person yourself, letting your words impact that person’s life in a negative fashion?
So, yes…words and actions are irrevocably tied together. First you think it, then you do it, right? Yet there are times in all our lives when something strikes out of the blue and all you can do is to react too it. It is how you react that matters in that time. So, yes actions and words are tied together, often in ways we will never totally understand.