As a child, I remember being told, “Sticks and stones can break your bones, but words will never hurt you.” This seemed vaguely logical, but somehow just didn’t ring true. Unkind words did hurt; I’d have preferred a skinned knee over a cutting comment any day. The words we hear—good or bad—have a profound effect on our lives.
It’s tough to avoid negative words today. The media bombards us daily with reports of disasters, wars and other shocking events. Good news gets very little press or air time. Ad campaigns tell us that unless we purchase and use their products we’ll never be successful. Our own negative self-talk is another subtle joy-stealer we’re often unaware of.
The harmful effects of negative and pessimistic words on our feelings, how we view life and even on our health are well documented. We therefore need to be careful what we listen to. We can’t escape all the negative words, but we can be aware of their adverse effects and adjust our responses and self-talk accordingly.
Scientists tell us we have an ongoing internal dialogue of between 500 and 1500 words per minute, most of which is subconscious. We can become more aware of our self-talk, and ensure what we’re telling ourselves is positive and uplifting. Some ways we can counteract the negative words around us is by listening to inspiring sermons and messages online. We can choose to hang out with upbeat people and listen to joyful music.
The words we hear influence us for good or ill. Be careful what you listen to. Don’t be a passive listener—choose instead to be an active, positive influence in the world and sweeten your own soul as well as those around you.
“Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweetness to the soul and health to the body” ~ Proverbs 16:24 (Revised Standard Version)