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 created 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 flimsily thrown around, with little thought behind their lasting impact. It doesn’t take much to say something kind and encouraging – to lift someone up, instead of bringing them down.
Positive and encouraging words not only support someone through a challenging hour, but unknowingly could impact the trajectory of their life! If you take a moment to reflect, you may be able to re-call positive words spoken to you, at some point in your life… and re-call the impact they had at that time, or the lasting impact they have had in your life? I recount so many instances of my own, where I had hesitated to move forward because of self doubt, and then someone would come along and say something like “I believe in you, you’re going to to do great at this,” and suddenly those feelings of self doubt would melt away.
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 else’s efforts, it takes courage to stand up amongst your peers 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)
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. Having seen first hand, loved ones reduced to tears, or feelings of inadequacy in a matter of moments, just because of someones discouraging or mean words, has demonstrated clearly to me, the power of our 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 blabber of sentences, or allow negative self talk to run rampant in our minds. Rather, having an awareness of our words and thoughts 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 simply 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, as you may never know their full impact – their ripple may put a smile on someones face, a skip in their step, or 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