I dropped a pebble into the water, then stood and watched the ripple effect that it created. I repeated this over and over, one pebble after another as I contemplated my words and the ripple effect they create in other people and in the world.
How do you feel when someone says something kind to you? Hey you look great today! Fantastic job with that presentation! Oh, i know it didn’t quite work out, but i believe in you, don’t give up, give it another shot!
To champion hope in this world the easiest thing for us to begin with is our words. There are enough damaging words thrown around, with little thought behind their lasting impact. It doesn’t take much to say something kind and encouraging – to lift someone up rather than to bring them down.
For me personally positive words of encouragement, even from a stranger, can change the outlook of my day or even my week. I re-call so many instances in my life where I have hesitated to move forward because of self doubt and then someone comes along and genuinely says something like “I believe in you, you’re going to to do great at this,” and suddenly the self doubt melts away. There have even been profound words of kindness spoken to me as a child that remain en-grained in my heart even until this day.
Positive words attract positive emotions and even science has observed how “positive emotions enhance mental abilities such as creative thinking, cognitive flexibility, and the processing of information” (Belle Beth Cooper, 2014).
And whilst it’s often easy to join in with a group speaking negatively of someone elses efforts, it takes courage to stand up and say, “well actually I applaud them for giving it a go,” or, “it may not have worked out, but it’s probably an invaluable experience for them.”
“A word of encouragement during a failure is worth more than an hour of praise after success.” —Unknown (Morris, 2012)
Can you think back to some positive words that have been spoken to you over the years and the impact that they have had in your life?
Unfortunately, the opposite is true also – negative words, words of discouragement also have a ripple effect. For some of us, when we hear negativity we are able to block it out, reduce it’s power or re-channel the energy into motivation. But for many that are already going through a difficult situation, are feeling hurt, vulnerable or have been subjected to on-going verbal abuse, the result can be significant – a damaged self-esteem, self doubt, loss of hope or a negative outlook on life. I have personally experienced and also seen others go from feeling happy and confident, to reduced to tears or feeling so small and wanting to give up in a matter of moments, just because of someones discouraging or mean words.
Negative words attract negative emotions and again science highlights how this negativity can create a “struggle to think clearly, to coordinate well with others, to take in new information and to come up with new ideas.” (Belle Beth Cooper, 2014).
When it comes to words you can choose to speak negative words to others, but remember this is often a reflection of your own state of mind. And when receiving negative words, though they may be hurtful, remember you have a choice on the power you allow them to have in your life.
Words are Powerful
Proverbs – “life and death are in the power of your tongue”.
Words are powerful when spoken to one another and when spoken to ourselves! It’s important we don’t just blubber off sentences or allow self talk to run rampant in our minds. Rather, having an awareness enables us to take control over what we choose to say.
And there is no need to hoard kind words, it doesn’t cost you anything! So, when the opportunity arises, freely give them away! This doesn’t mean being unrealistically optimistic, or dishonest with people, it just means making a conscious decision to choose kind words instead of nasty ones, encouraging words instead of discouraging ones, and to make negative feedback constructive and communicated in a way that ultimately empowers someone.
Do not underestimate the power of your kind words, you may never know their full impact but their ripple may put a smile on someones face, a skip in their step, or they may have a profound impact – your words may inspire them, stay with them, or begin a chain reaction that will change their life for the better! I urge you to choose your words carefully, choose words that compliment and encourage one another, choose words that give hope, choose words with wings!
“Kind words are easy to speak but their echoes are endless” – Mother Teresa