We have all heard and probably recited the nursery rhyme “sticks and stones can break my bones…” You know the rest: “But words can never hurt me.” If only it were true. The fact is that words do hurt. Unlike a bruise or broken bone, we can’t see the wound on the outside. Most of us can recall instances from our own lives when words cut deeply, causing wounds that may still hurt. Since these wounds are not visible to others, we go through life exhibiting behaviors that come from how we deal with these old hurts. If we try to bury the wound rather than learn from it, we not only prevent healing but we are likely to inflict pain on others.
10 Steps to Healing Word Wounds
How do we begin to mend the wound we have received from the words of others?
- Become mindful of the words we use and recognize how our own use of language associates words with feelings, responses and outcomes. Here are a few examples: I am heartbroken; I have a gut feeling; This job is killing me; That person makes me sick; What a pain in the neck. These words and the feelings associated with them can actually lead to ill health. A classic example is the woman suffering from rectal cancer who had always referred to her husband as a “pain in the ass.” Are you using your own words against yourself?
- Try to identify situations in your own life where words have elicited pain. Some examples might be: You will never amount to anything; Why can’t you be more (fill in the blank) like your brother/sister?; You will never be the man your father was; You are so (lazy, stupid, fat, irresponsible, etc). What kind of feeling or behavior did that evoke for you?
- Notice if you have in the past or are currently using language that may be inflicting pain to someone else. Often we may not even recognize the things that have hurt us in the past or that we may be repeating words from our own past.
- Begin to heal your wounds by recognizing the fact that the person speaking them was probably speaking from their own pain and directing it outwardly at you and probably others as well.
- Practice physically releasing the pain inside of you by practicing mindful breathing: On your inhale, identify the phrase or the feeling that may have hurt you, then imagine releasing the words and the pain with each deep exhale. The inhale serves to gather up the old vestiges of the pain while the exhale allows you to visualize it physically leaving your body.
- Develop affirmations that refute the words that were aimed at you such as: “I am productive and confident”, “I am successful”, “I am loved”, “I am worthy.” Write your affirmations down and keep them close to you; in your pocket, at your desk or on your nightstand. Often just touching the piece of paper in your pocket will serve as a reminder, but seeing them, and reading them aloud provides additional benefit when you feel that old feeling or behavior creeping back.
- Be mindful of the words you choose, both toward yourself and others.
- Make an effort to speak from a positive viewpoint, without judgment.
- Do your best to speak from a place of love, kindness and compassion.
- Be gentle with yourself. You may be dealing with a very deep wound. Healing can happen. You have my word.
About the Author
Dr. Mary Jayne Rogers is an Exercise Physiologist specializing in whole-person wellness and fitness education and instruction. As an educator, Mary Jayne brings multi-dimensional wellness and fitness experiences along with a welcoming and genuine teaching style to inspire students and wellness enthusiasts of all ages. Dr. Rogers is the owner of Profound Wellness LLC. www.doctormaryjayne.com