I’m anything but a Biblical literalist, but I think the book of Genesis has a truly fascinating parable about the creative power of language.
“And God said, ‘let there be light,’ and there was light.”
He then goes on to create lots of other things – by using words. In fact, the entire premise of this creation story is that God uses words and language to make things happen. This famous passage of the Bible repeats the phrase “and God said” no less than ten times.
We humans also have the ability to shape reality with our words. Intuitively we know it is self-defeating for someone to say, “I’ll never be able to do this.” It’s more powerful to say, “This might be possible for me.” And more powerful still to say, “Okay, I’m doing this now.”
Obviously, language isn’t the only tool for shaping reality, but it is an extremely important one. Since we humans are so enchanted by the future, we are also enchanted by words, which give us a gauzy foreshadowing of what will happen next.
This is why the pen is really mightier than the sword. The sword will kill a person in one stroke, but hurtful words linger in our minds and kill us every day. Words truly have the power to make or break people and relationships.
I will narrate a small incident from my childhood. I was about 8 years old at that time.
Growing up, I really had a hard time focusing on lectures at school. I’m a very talkative girl, which is the reason why I always get in trouble with teachers. So one time, in my English class, I was busy talking with my seatmate, and our English Teacher, Mrs. Boni called me out to compose one sentence.
I was off-guard and wasn’t paying any attention to what I recall, a lesson about basic subject and verb and how to use it in a sentence. I was left standing, thinking of anything I could say correctly. But before I could say anything, Mrs. Boni said; “This is why you shouldn’t be like Hanna. She always talks more than me and whenever I call her out in class she can only say the simplest sentences like ‘The girl is beautiful,’ or ‘The boy is handsome.”
The whole class laughed and I was left standing in embarrassment. I kept that memory fervently and I used it to improve my communication skills. Years went by, and now I have become a writer.
Well, Mrs. Boni passed away when I was in college but what I only wish is that she somehow knew that I became a writer by profession.
All because of that small interaction that happened between us in my third-grade English class.
Words have the power to make us or break us.
Physical wounds can heal through medication and our body’s natural process of healing injuries.
Remember, it is the strong mind and willpower that heals physical injuries. However, words spoken that hurt you stay inside your mind permanently.
These words keep echoing within us and make us feel restless and miserable about ourselves. Those emotions of anger, frustration, and being hurt must come out somehow.
Some people get angry or cry, and some share with their close friends or spouse how they feel, but there are many who do not have an outlet or someone close to hear them out and these are people who will sulk.
Whichever language you choose to communicate with people, there are words that you speak or write that will generate emotions that could be either positive or negative through either reading or hearing. It is amazing how our brain functions because these are ultimately just words – but they can either motivate you or devastate you.
The human brain reacts to these words which you have no control over. We like to hear good things about ourselves. But we often get to hear criticisms and words that offend us or hurt us.
Ever wondered why couples in love are the happiest? It is neither their good looks nor the touch that keeps them glued together, but it is those words they say to each other which make them feel good, and that positive feeling makes them want to spend more time with each other, until the point where that one unkind word is uttered which hurts either of them and things start falling apart.
Ever wondered why successful people say their daily affirmations? Because what you say to yourself will build the mood of your entire day.
Legendary lyricist, Javed Akhtar, in one of his Ted Talks delivered a speech that lingers in me from time to time.
It’s beautiful how he compares ‘words’ with bricks. Words are not thoughts. Words are like bricks. With bricks you build a house, if you have fewer bricks you end up building a smaller house.
We are living in a very fast-paced world. Communication, like everything else, has become quicker, and in our earnestness to communicate faster we have compromised on the depth.
He said that in a world full of revolutionary ideas, we are running short of words.
‘Words’ are our identity, they speak about our journey, our past, our travels, and our evolution.
Be it an article in a newspaper, a mother’s lullaby, a politician’s speech, love letters from your beloved, a complaint against someone, a protest call, or words we say out of anger, sadness, happiness, surprise, belonging, alienation or anything in the world, any feeling in the world, any emotion, any reaction until it is expressed in a word, it will always have a meaning for you.
So language is a very powerful thing. Words are extremely powerful. But by themselves, they are neither good nor bad. If we start loving words and understand their power, we would realize that everything that happens in the world is because of words.