Most do not understand the power of words. Our words may be a voice at a critical juncture in someone’s existence, and the connection we make can be, literally, the difference between death and life. Our conversations might not remove the obstacles people face, and our exchanges may last only a moment.
Dr. Hyder Zahed said We must align our words, voice inflection and tone, eye expression, body language, and actions with our inner awareness in an honest exchange. This exchange can be with either ourselves or other people.
“Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble.”
“In the context of mental illness, mental health, and wellbeing, negative words can be experienced as condescending, isolating, and stigmatizing, whereas positive words can convey dignity, empathy, and hope.”
Here are some Quotes on the power of words.
1. “Be careful with your words. Once they are said, they can be only forgiven, not forgotten.” -Unknown
2. “Words are free. It’s how you use them that may cost you.” -KushandWizdom
3. “Raise your words, not your voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.” -Rumi
4. “…But the human tongue is a beast that few can master. It strains constantly to break out of its cage, and if it is not tamed, it will run wild and cause you grief.” -Unknown
5. “One kind word can change someone’s entire day.” -Unknown
6. “Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs.” -Pearl Strachan Hurd
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7. “Be careful what you say. You can say something hurtful in ten seconds, but ten years later, the wounds are still there.” -Joel Osteen
8. “All I need is a sheet of paper and something to write with, and then I can turn the world upside down.” -Friedrich Nietzsche
9. “Don’t mix bad words with your bad mood. You’ll have many opportunities to change a mood, but you’ll never get the opportunity to replace the words you spoke.” -Unknown
10. “If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely. If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative. In our thoughts and words, we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths. Our limitations and joys begin in our hearts. We can always replace negative with positive.” -Betty Eadie
Here’s why the words we use to describe mental health matters
Many would argue that it is practice and not language that matters. But words are a barrier to help-seeking and a motivator for making discrimination acceptable.
It can be a provider of a context for many people, which further entraps them in a vicious cycle of thinking that they’re suffering from “something” that they really shouldn’t be – or worse, that this “something” is somehow defining them as lesser members of their communities.
If we understand the important processes that words trigger in our brains, we may decide that it is worth being more thoughtful in the words that we use to describe mental health
It is important not just how we talk about problems and diagnoses. Remember that 1 in 6 of us is experiencing high levels of distress or a common mental health problem every week therefore being respectful and thoughtful in our mental health-related language could do wonders for our brain’s “associative activation”, and, hence, the emotions of the people around us.
For example, we should avoid:
- Saying “I’m depressed” or “that’s depressing” if we feel a bit sad is not the same as living with depression.
- Using very problematic words like “psycho” to describe a person we dislike or “schizo” to describe a person’s reaction or personality stigmatises people living with schizophrenia.
- Describing someone thin as “anorexic” misunderstands that anorexia nervosa is a mental health condition that is much more complex than just losing weight.
- Describing someone who is organized as “OCD” – being clean, tidy and particular is not the same as living with clinical obsessive-compulsive disorder.
- Saying “I’m going to kill myself” when frustrated, embarrassed or when something is going wrong is insensitive to someone who is suicidal or someone who has lost a loved one to suicide.
So choose your words bravely, consciously and lovingly, for it carries power. Always speak from a place of love; for yourself, for your life and for others. Your words equal your world, so use them wisely.