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The Meaning and Power Behind the Expression of Words
James P Krehbiel(1)
Don Ruiz, in his book called The Four Agreements
, talks about the power of words. Most of us have had things said about us that were emotionally damaging. Early childhood recollections of slights and criticisms impact all of us in negative ways. We vividly remember comments that were expressed in a way that made us feel small. I can still remember how embarrassed I felt when a girl I dated to the homecoming dance turned on me in front of her friends. I felt devastated. I couldn’t understand how a night I enjoyed turned out to be such a humiliating experience because of the words and body language expressed by this young girl with whom I was infatuated. I never wanted to date again. Negative early recollections have a way of crystallizing and emerging as “hot buttons” later on in life. Toxic words can affect one’s sense of competency.
I saw a patient who had been taught by a first grade teacher who was intimidating and mean. This client is a sensitive guy, and the mere mention of that experience rekindled an emotional reaction. In fact, it was a presenting issue that we addressed within the first several sessions of counseling. Painful words can also affect interpersonal relationships. When an individual in a relationship continues to get beaten down through the use of negative communication, those words ultimately create a sense of indifference. After a period of time, the partner quits caring. A partner may shut down due to the power of words and give up on the relationship. The Bible says that “love covers a multitude of sins” but some words are so damaging that irreparable harm may be done. Forgiveness no longer has much meaning. The foundation of trust and respect has been destroyed.
Words that significant others communicate are either uplifting or destructive. Destructive comments are often internalized, not processed appropriately, and later recycled as one repeats the intergenerational pattern of pain. That which is not brought to awareness in one generation will follow us to the next. An example is the adolescent girl who suffers from an eating disorder after being told repeatedly by her father that she was fat during her childhood. Or the woman who experienced verbal and physical abuse as a child and maintained the same abusive pattern in the relationships that she established in adulthood. We must grieve and mourn the past and move on in a new direction. It is imperative that we take responsibility for the pain of our past and commit ourselves to not re-offend at the expense of our loved ones.
Article submitted Friday, March 13, 2009 & read 17694 times.
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