Words can injure, or uplift and inspire

Dennis

A hospice patient in her 60s whose life story I was videotaping told a sad story from her childhood about an adult who had said cruel things about her, words that produced a depth of pain that was still sufficiently strong that she felt compelled to talk about it at the end of her life.

“Some people say that sticks and stones may break our bones, but words can never hurt us,” the patient told future generations of her family. “I want everyone who sees this to remember that that is not true. Words can hurt us.”

Words matter not only because they affect our feelings but because they can alter how we view ourselves—whether we see ourselves as valued or unimportant, respected or disrespected, competent or incompetent, included or excluded.

While words can injure, they can also uplift and inspire. Most of us can recall things that significant adults in our lives said that encouraged and sustained us—the right words at the right time.

The words spoken by teachers, principals, and parents can have a particularly strong resonance across a lifetime, for good or for ill.

Which words encourage and sustain you? Which words disempower?

4 Responses to “Words can injure, or uplift and inspire”


  1. 1 AskteacherZ February 24, 2016 at 6:42 am

    Wonderful blog post — the power of words we choose to use with others as children and as a adults is worth reflecting upon. As educators we possess thus power each and every day — make it it a positive, impactful interaction.

  2. 3 melaniefellmanwrites February 29, 2016 at 8:45 am

    Yes words are a powerful tool which can either be used to encourage and help others, or, they can be used to hurt and destroy. We can never tell how deep an impact our words will make.


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