Did you know that words CAN actually hurt you?
Yes, that’s right. And not only HURT, but truly HARM you.
You know the old children’s rhyme:
Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me.
It may have been a coping mechanism on the outside. But inside it’s much more complex.
Researchers have found that even a single negative word can have long ranging effects, even to the point of damaging brain structures which involve memory and emotions. That’s because negative words, either spoken, heard, or thought of, cause the release of stress hormones. This raises reactivity in us, as if we were being attacked all the time and that there is danger all around us.
Imagine your head filled with negative thoughts about yourself all the time. Negative thoughts about people around you. Negative thoughts about the world.
If the above is true, how do you think your body is behaving now? How about your sleep? Your energy level? Your health?
This kind of chronic stress does not serve anyone well!
Remember it’s not about you only; you spread negativity when you express negative feelings with words (and also through body language!). The same reactions happen in other people through listening to those words!
Researchers have also found that the brain doesn’t distinguish between reality and fiction. You could watch a movie and get the same reactions. Think of what happens simply by reading news about all the troubles in the world! And think of the effects that are magnified by brighter video screens, cinematography, and the graphic nature of videos being showed today.
When you read the above, how true is this for you?
When you are interacting with the world, how are you showing up with your words?
When you are consuming media of all types, what words are you seeing or hearing? How are they affecting you?
And how about your inner voice? What kind of words do you use to speak to yourself?
If you were to change the above in some way, what could those be to reduce, if not eliminate, negativity in your life?
To find out more about this topic, check out Words Can Change Your Brain by A. Newberg and M. Waldman.