Words have power

Mar 9, 2011 by

Words have power

Words have power.

In my line of work, I constantly see the positive and negative impact of words on the psyche.

Words build.
Words break.

Without question, the effects of physical abuse can leave scars on the body and the spirit. Additionally, as research has now demonstrated, it is inarguable that how we are spoken to and the words used to define us, at a young age, have much to do with the molding and development of our early self-concept and self-esteem.

Shakespeare's wordsWords create.
Words crush.

However, it extends beyond the border of our home life. The patterning of our youth leaves us with communication habits. We take those habits out into the world with us, where they can, and often do, become the continuing echoes of how we talk to ourselves and how we talk to those around us. The more we participate with others in our lives, also known as our circle of influence, the more important it becomes to examine how others perceive our words. Put another way, as we affect more and more people with our words and how we use them, we would do well to think about whether these habits produce the desired effect in our lives and the lives of those around us.

Words develop.
Words decimate.

Words’ power is exponential, and they can be affirming or annihilating.

Have you used your power responsibly today?

The sad point is that stereotypical labels and disparaging names are still too commonly used around the globe to define others different from oneself. The effect this labeling habit has on a personal level, is but a microcosm of the negative effects labeling has on the macrocosm of the world community.

Words have unique power. Names that stem from ridicule or prejudice continually inflame belief systems that claim it is acceptable, necessary, or appropriate to demonize, ostracize, stratify and segregate anyone defined as different – for whatever arbitrary reason (i.e. ethnicity, gender, race, sexual orientation, culture, religion, class, politics.) In large measure, groups using these classifications thrive on fear, ignorance and the ramifications of what rises in human beings in the face of economic insecurity. Up from this kettle of boiling emotions come attitudes, which tend to accept or excuse separatist ideologies like the “us” vs. “them” mindsets. These attitudes are epitomized by statements such as, “they’re not like us”, “they’re just different than us” or “they’re not as good as us.”

Words have so much power that it makes it imperative for each of us to think, with as much awareness as we can offer, about what we intend our words to do. Each of us is empowered to affirm, annihilate, build, break, create, crush, develop, decimate.

The haunting truth is:

Every war starts with words, but so, too, does every peace.

Photo Credit: Shakespeare’s words: Calamity Meg @ Flickr

Words are weapons: Allison Hewett @ Flickr


  1. Naomi Schultz via Facebook

    As Maya said, “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”

  2. Now ain’t that the truth! It’s a shame you can crush someone with just your words.