THE POWER OF WORDS

It was a cold December evening. I was lying down on my bed with the fever. I was feeling cold and very uncomfortable when my wife covered me with a thick blanket and gave me hot water bag to keep inside the blanket. After some time I felt warm and much better. I realized how important is warmth to our body. It made me feel so comfortable.

My mind just took me to think about the words we speak. The word has power and it never comes back to us void. I always give the instance of my former boss who used to tell me one thing, “Chiradeep, think ten times before you speak out; because once the words are out cannot be taken back and each word works either in a positive or negative ways…”

The question arises here is what can be the effects of the words that we speak? Have we ever thought about it? I had to brainstorm a bit to get to the answer to this question.

Effects of Our Words

Comforts & Heals: I know a doctor who owns a hospital in Cuttack. The patients of that hospital say that when doctor sahib speaks to us we get cured and feel warm even before the treatment starts. 

The old Hebrew Proverbs say that – “Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet and delightful to the soul and healing to the body.”

How beautiful will it be when we speak and people get healed and comforted? But usually, it doesn’t happen.

Hurts & Kills Emotions: Have you heard of a phrase “character assassination?” That’s possible only through our powerful words when we gossip about a person behind him or her. Words of discouragement, defaming, accusing can hurt the person at the receiving end.   

I am very sensitive to the words that are used for me or what I have done. It affects me a lot. I feel troubled. I get hurt. Sometimes I have seen people pretend not to be affected by the hurtful words of others but I am sure they would be definitely thinking about the words used to them when they are all alone with themselves.

If words have the power to stimulate, stir our emotions of love, lust, desires then it has the power to hurt and kill our emotions and enthusiasm to a very greater extent.

Regulates Anger: Another proverb that says, “A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.” We all know when a husband is angry and wife speaks gently to him instead of his hurtful words, his anger calms down seeing her behavior towards him. So many times I had felt guilty of shouting on somebody in anger when he or she responded to me gently. Similarly, we get angry when we hear harsh words from the other party.

So it is necessary to remember that our words that we speak can make somebody angry or calms him/her down because word regulates the emotion of anger.

Changes Perceptions: An article ‘Words Have Power’ by Jack Schafer on Psychology Today explains: “Words cannot change reality, but they can change how people perceive reality. Words create filters through which people view the world around them. A single word can make the difference between liking a person and disliking that person.”

If we characterize somebody with our words then a tag get attached to that person and people’s perception get set accordingly for that particular person.

For example, when somebody says about a woman that “She is a bitch” the people around get a picture about that particular woman. But when somebody else really tries to know her personally and finds her good then his or her old perception about that woman will change definitely.

So we need to be careful when we judge and give different names to other persons knowing only a few facts about them.  

Stirs up Dissension: I always think if we all can think ten times before we say something then we could stop many possible fatal incidences. There are many occasions where words have been destructive and have stirred up riots. The history says that the big riots have been stirred up just from small arguments between two friends. These days it’s very common when people share words of hate or hate speeches through Whatsapp, Facebook, and Twitters etc.

Affects Mind Negatively: Another article that I was reading on Psychology Today where it says, “If you vocalize your negativity, or even slightly frown when you say “NO,” more stress chemicals will be released, not only in your brain but in the listener’s brain as well. The listener will experience increased anxiety and irritability, thus undermining cooperation and trust.” I felt extremely guilty reading this. So many times I had said, “NO” to many people in anger or denied people of something and by doing so I must have affected mine as well as my listener’s mind negatively. I might resolve that I will respond with positive affirmations henceforth. But when I read the article further I found some worrisome facts which I am quoting here as well.     

“When doctors and therapists teach patients to turn negative thoughts and worries into positive affirmations, the communication process improves and the patient regains self-control and confidence. But there’s a problem: the brain barely responds to our positive words and thoughts. They’re not a threat to our survival, so the brain doesn’t need to respond as rapidly as it does to negative thoughts and words.”

Now we can understand how important it is for us to speak positively.

In my life, I take pride in the fact that, I am very good at talking, putting my messages across and motivating someone I talk to but I am scared of one thing when I think of this quote: “The hearts of the wise make their mouths prudent, and their lips promote instruction.” This makes me question myself: ‘Does my mouth talk sense?’ ‘Do I utter prudent words all the time?’ ‘Do my lips promote instructions?’

A wise king says, “sin is not absent in many words…” That alarms me and makes me think… Am I  not committing any sin with the words, ‘the many words’ I use? 

Let’s consider and be mindful of what words we utter for others… Do we add values when we speak out or cast shadows? How can the stream water be sweet and bitter both?

Keep thinking as we discuss this throughout the week.

Stay Blessed!!!

THE POWER OF SILENCE

Silence is the language of the soul. When spoken words fall short, the silence of the soul takes over. Man has been uniquely blessed with the gift of speech and, language is the vehicle of speech through which thoughts are shared and feelings are expressed. However, silence has more power than words. That’s why the famous English proverb says, “Speech is silver, Silence is golden.”

The wise King Solomon in his words of wisdom said that there is “a time to keep silence and a time to speak.” Not all occasions demand silence. Had it been so, we would have found it easier to practice this art. To know when to be silent and when to speak up is an invaluable skill.

SILENCE IS A POWERFUL WEAPON

Questions elicit answers. Silence elicits action!

  1. Silence creates an ability to listen – Most arguments gather heat because none of the parties involved are willing to listen. Listening enhances the ability to understand. But, when no one is willing to be silent for a while there is no listening and no understanding.
  2. Silence passes on the message more effectively – It is natural to give back to people who hurt us. Remaining silent when there are storms raging within is difficult. Not all people possess the ability to interpret silence. Hence, exercising this skill before people who have the sensitivity to interpret it leads to the desirous results.
  3. Silence is a mark of wisdom – We have all heard it often said, “Empty vessels sound much.” People who resort to mindless chatter and unopinionated commentaries are people with hollow minds. Wise people listen more and speak less. And when they speak, there flow pearls of wisdom from their mouths.
  4. Silence helps keep the peace – Peace is the most elusive luxury in the world today. There is widespread unrest in almost all quarters, be it in families or workplaces. In such a scenario, practicing the art of silence helps reap rich personal dividends. It is a rare virtue to be at peace when all hell seems to be breaking loose.
  5. Silence is an indication of self-control – Self-control is a gift from the Almighty. It cannot be easily acquired or practiced without strength from above. Practising restraint with God’s strength is an indication of the work of divinity within.

The silence that amazes me the most is the silence of Jesus Christ in the process of His crucifixion. The Bible reckons that though He was without sin, He became sin for mankind, took upon Himself the abusive words, lies, cheatings, murders, rapes, adulteries, hatreds and all possible wrongdoings that you and I come across today. He had to switch places with the sinful humanity to redeem them from facing the gory consequences of their sins. Being God Himself, He humbled Himself to brace the torturous death on the Cross of Calvary. But, did He earn sympathy, appreciation and applause from the people around? Not in the least!

Adding on to His pain were remarks like, If you are the King of the Jews, save yourself!”, “Let Him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in Him.”

How did He respond?

He did not open His mouth. He did not shout back at His critics and accusers. He did not try to justify Himself. He was as silent as a lamb which is taken for slaughter. The silence of God! And when He did open His mouth, it was to offer forgiveness to His offenders. What a picture!

Friends, when you face injustice, ridicule, criticisms, unfair treatments and your heart is raging against your offenders remember the picture of Jesus on the Cross. He silently offered Himself up for sacrifice and that is why His silence speaks volumes to all humanity today.

In the world of protests and contests for rights, not all can have the assurance of justice. But, remaining true to God and to oneself can ensure peace within. This does not mean that we should remain mute spectators to all the ills happening around us. However, remaining silent when one expects to be least heard adds weight to our demands.

A meaningful silence is always better than meaningless, empty and vain words!