“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me!”
How many times have we heard children use this as a defense mechanism when others say something cruel or hurtful? How many times have you used it as such a defense mechanism?
The fact of the matter is that there is tremendous power in words. The things we say can have as great or greater an impact as any physical action.
If I were someone with whom you worked, or perhaps your neighbor, and you knew that every time I saw you, I would criticize, ridicule, or belittle you, would you try to avoid contact with me? Would you ignore the ringing phone if you saw my name on the caller- id? Of course you would! You would want to avoid being the victim of my words.
You see, there can be tremendous negative power in words. The good news is that just because someone gives you a piece of their mind doesn’t mean it has to become a piece of yours. The REALLY good news, however, is also an enormous potential for words to have a tremendous positive impact on others, if used correctly.
Every person has a tool at their disposal that can be used to build up others. It is a tool that is easy to use, doesn’t require special training to operate, and is as beneficial for the person who uses it as the person it is used on. It can build up their self-esteem and protect them from criticism. It can uplift those who are downtrodden.
What is this tool? Encouragement.
How can encouragement protect people from criticism? I have frequently told my young daughter that she is beautiful, and sweet, and strong, and precious. I went to pick her up from a class at church, and right before I got there a little boy in the class had told her that she was either dumb, ugly, or stupid. (If you’re feeling sorry for her after reading that, DON’T. Feel sorry for that poor little boy: he had no idea what he had started.) My little girl stood there in a defiant stance, shaking her finger in his face. I heard my little angel say “I AM NOT. I am beautiful, and sweet, and precious, and strong, and gorgeous, and I know it because my Daddy tells me all the time”.
WOW! Encouragement works!!!
How can encouragement uplift those who are downtrodden? I could give you several examples of this, but I’m not going to. I want you to create one of your own. Find someone who is having a rough time, and encourage them. Find someone who is down on their luck, and encourage them. Find someone who feels that no one cares for them, and encourage them. Encourage them soon, and encourage them often. Go out of your way to encourage someone. Leave them certain that someone cares and believes in them, that someone sees positive qualities and potential in them.
You will see the positive results of your encouragements. When you do, you will have your own examples to share with others, as you let them know of this incredible tool they have.
Make it an AWESOME today, and a BETTER tomorrow,
Originally published in KeyNotes Volume #6 on 6 May 2002.