The Power to Hurt or to Heal

Feb 16, 2011 by

The Power to Hurt or to Heal

A Facebook friend sent me a lovely photo with a caption, a while ago, it read ‘Words can hurt or heal. What did yours do today?’(Thanks Garry!)

Now isn’t that very thought provoking? Many of us are not aware of the power of our words are we? I know I wasn’t, and although rarely in my life did I go out there to maim, I will admit, I have been careless with my words in the distant past, and they may not always have been adding to someone’s healing.

I believe that we do indeed have the power to hurt or heal with our words, and it is because that we are not fully aware, and that we do not think things through enough before we speak, that we end up hurting others.

I’ve gotten into the habit recently of thinking things through. I ask myself “If I say that to that person, what effect will it have? Not only on them, but on all the other people who this person interacts with today, tomorrow, etc.” Because everything we say to others and to ourselves has an effect, so we really need to think about what kind of effect that we want to have.

Sometimes we are so full of hurt and emotional pain that we just lash out at others, as if that will make us feel better, it doesn’t, it just brings us deeper into the darkness.

comedy & tragedy masksWhen we hurt others deliberately, we actually hurt ourselves too, the things we say, the anger and resentment we hold onto, will only, only ever hurt us too, this will never help us to heal, nor will this help in another’s healing either.

So now that you know you have this power to hurt or to heal, what are you going to do with it?

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  1. Paula O'Sullivan

    Wow… thank you everyone… I have really enjoyed reading all your comments… I am enlightened by all the perspectives,

    Hope you all have a really beautiful day when you read this !

    Love and light,
    Paula xxx

  2. John Sanders via Facebook

    A very potent amplifier !!!!!!!!

  3. words do have power but the intent behind the word is like an amplifier

  4. Words have power. In my line of work I see the effects and results of words impact on the psyche, both positive and negative, all the time. I agree the physical effects of abuse can leave lasting impact on the body, without question. But in my opinion, it is inarguable, for instance that in many cases, words can easily build or decimate the early self-esteem and self-concept of a child. A parent’s continual denigration of a child’s intelligence, attractiveness, likability or worth is heard and felt like a hammer pounding down a nail. But if instead, a parent offers affirming recognition it offers the child a firm step to stand on supporting emotionally with surety and safety.
    Additionally, it is still all too common to view the negative effects that rise out of the continuing of identifying religious, ethnic, racial, classist, political, cultural and globalized differences by stereotypical labels and disparaging names. These names continue to propagate and inflame ostracizing, stratifying, demonizing and segregating attitudes, propagating separatist attitudes that epitomize the “us” and “them” ideologies indicative of statements like “they’re not like us” or “they’re not as good as us”.
    Words have power.
    I ask us all to remember ~ Every war starts with words, so too does every peace.

  5. John Sanders via Facebook

    Knowing what words to say to injure a person is worse than the physical violence. You hurt them everyday for the rest of their life with your heartless comment

  6. Brian, I agree that we need to take responsibility for our feelings. But I also believe that is mandatory on both sides. Words can hurt, unlike the school poem. And I hate that some people will use the, as Kristen says, “increasingly popular view that other people can’t make you feel one way or another” as an excuse for expressing whatever comes into their minds without regard for the impact.
    I think it’s about balance – something easily said and hard to achieve. It’s important to speak the truth, but to express it in a way that it will be heard. And that means doing one’s best to “think before you speak” to be responsible about one’s communication.
    As an added note, extrapolating from Carl Jung’s ideology, there are people who think with logic and people who think with their feelings. The latter will have greater difficulty warding off cruel blows than the former.

  7. Too true…but if it makes us think, for even a nano-second, before speaking, it’s worth it.

  8. I love the “pachinko” ball analogy!!! : )

  9. David Traub via Facebook

    Solipsistic. In my opinion, you cannot know the outcome of your plan. It has just become all about you instead of the interaction taking place naturally. I love how the characters on the soap operas devise intricate plans for the downfall of others. All laid out like dominoes, to fall at the drop of the right word. Things can never go the way we plan. When something is set in motion there is a chaotic effect. A pachinko (sp) ball. You cannot predict the path or the final ending.
    I include, especially, purposely directed words.

  10. To Wajja : I do agree with you. And, the difficulty is no matter how accomplished the oratory or the auditory, the writer or the reader the grey area is still perception and the grey area can too often become a no-man’s (no-person’s) land, lonely, uninhabited and uninhabitable when it all is said and done……
    To Kristen : Beautiful stated points and very well drawn. And, while adrenaline only tends to fuel the likelihood of misunderstanding and misinterpretation it is often when it is flowing most abundantly that conversations like such are had.
    To Ruth : Yes. They can be poison or poetry…….

  11. Anonymous User via Facebook

    Interesting, what might easily slide off one person’s “back” would agonize another, maybe due to just having ultra sensitive feelings that day. I have to agree, using “I” puts it on that person and not the other. It’s the tone of voice, looks, body posture given with same. I once heard of a man in a town I lived in, that for years simply stopped talking. Maybe he figured, words get in the way! I don’t know. Some people use writing a letter, which can also be horrendous, because it’s always there to remind, others use a phone. It’s a tricky business-words!

  12. “It is unfortunate for our peace that unmerited abuse wounds, while unmerited praise has not the power to heal. ” –Thomas Jefferson

  13. I’m critical of the increasingly popular view that other people can’t make you feel one way or another. It annoys me to hear, “I’m not responsible for how you feel. You own your feelings and can choose to be hurt by my words or not.” While that’s true of course to some extent, words do hurt, damnit. And kindness or affirmation expressed IS healing. Self-help books and do-it-yourself therapy have done much for interpersonal communication and relationships, but the tools designed to help us talk and listen to each other can also be used to manipulate. Case in point: wife says, “you never help out around the house. You don’t appreciate how hard I work.” Husband responds, “I might be more receptive if you expressed your feelings with ‘I’ statements.” Wife: “I sometimes feel my contributions are not valued. Husband: “why does it always have to be about you?”

  14. Wajja Theman via Facebook

    I asked a similar question last November 4 in my Notes. Initially, given the right (or completely wrong…) circumstances the effects of our words can be blissful or utterly devestating. Interpretation of intent by what we say or don’t say CAN be a huge gray area. But that’s probably just me…