By Helene Smith
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Children used this phrase on the playground in elementary school to defend against ugly words spoken by bullies.
In my home growing up, I heard positive, encouraging and loving words. Seldom did I hear a discouraging word, even in times of cloudy skies.
Other children were not so blessed. Mean words stuck to some of my schoolmates and hurt them. They were not equipped to deal with the negativity and their lives were affected.
One of my grandsons was upset by what a bully said to him at school. I advised him to reject ugly words spoken in anger or meanness. “But, he said I was stupid.”
“When you hear negative words, don’t believe them. Say to yourself, ‘I’m a good student. I learn new things every day.’ Turn them around to make them positive.”
Negative words assault our minds also when we bully ourselves. We hear phrases such as, “I’m not a good cook” or “I’m too impatient.”
What if there is some truth to those statements? How do I turn around the self-talk in my head?
The same way. My friend is teaching me to bake pies and I’m trying new recipes. I am practicing ways to learn patience and I’m doing better. Give yourself some grace.
Keep the positive self-talk going. John Gottman’s and Robert Levenson’s research found that for every negative encounter, it takes at least five positive ones to counterbalance the negative effects.
The Apostle Paul in Philippians 4:8 said, “Finally brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable — if anything is excellent or praiseworthy-think about such things” (NIV).
When the words we hear out loud or internally do not meet this criteria, stop listening. Read a proverb, sing a praise song, say a prayer or recite a verse. Do whatever it takes to change the narrative.
What excellent, pure and noble words do we need to speak over ourselves? I am a child of God and He loves me. He created me for a purpose. He cares for me. Jesus left the 99 for me.
Individuals affected by ugliness spoken over them may be grouchy, difficult, depressed, self-destructive or hurting in other ways. What lovely, admirable or praiseworthy words can we speak over them? What do they need to hear from us?
Words are powerful. God created the world with words. Let that sink in for a moment. The Creator used words. God said, “Let there be light.” And, there was light. (Genesis 1:3). He didn’t go to His workroom and mix some elements together to create light. He spoke words. “Let there be light.” And there was light. Wow!
We can create with words, too. We can shine into someone’s day with an encouraging word. We can impart joy into someone’s heart with an affirming word. Words are powerful. Words create. Let’s make beautiful things with words.
This column includes both fiction and nonfiction, and views expressed do not necessarily represent those of The SUN. Submissions can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.