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Joyce Meyer says that “Words are containers of power.”

 And we’ve  experienced that power.

The kind word that lifts your spirits at the end of a tough day,  the compliment that makes you feel good, the encouragement you are given during a difficult task.

Sadly, words can also be used to inflict maximum damage.  Words can HURT. A LOT!

Remember that little ditty kids say in the playground? “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

I guess it started  as a bit of bravado but it sure ain’t true.

“Words have more power than atom bombs.” (Pearl Strachan Hurd)

Humans are social creatures – we need to love and feel loved and share pleasant, meaningful interaction.

So the pain from ‘word bombs’ lobbed at you for whatever reason –    anger, blame,  criticism,  or venting over a situation that has nothing to do with you –  is excruciating.

And it’s worse if they are uttered by someone important to you, such as a valued colleague, friend, partner.  All kinds of emotions are triggered – shame, embarrassment, anger. And it can leave a permanent scar unless you deal with it.

deal with words

You can’t control what others say  but you can evaluate what was said:

  • Was it sparked by envy about something you have or have achieved? A backhanded compliment.  Can you put it in a more positive context?
  • Was there some truth in it? Is it highlighting an area you need to work on?
  • Was the speaker having an off day? If so, take a deep breath and let it go. As Christians we shouldn’t take offence.  Proverbs 19:11 states, “A person with good sense is patient, and it is to his credit that he overlooks an offence.” [GW] We’ve all said things we regret when we’re dealing with ‘stuff’ and we hope that others will overlook.
  • Is the speaker generally negative?  Some people just are like that. The best way to handle this,  is to accept that’s who they are and pray for them.

joyce meyer words

Action steps for overcoming hurtful words:

It’s OK to cherry pick the steps that are most useful to you – personally I’ve found steps 1, 2, 5 & 7 helpful.

  1. The most important and effective action step you is to choose to let it go, bless the person and move on. Yes, it’s difficult, but it is possible. It’s like they say – all you can control is your reaction to situations. Think of it as a gift to yourself, setting you free from someone else’s negativity.
  2. Write down how you feel in your journal. Putting words on paper clarifies your thoughts and brings insights. Plus, you can plan what to say if you decide to speak to the person about what was said.  Read more here.
  3. Discuss the situation with someone you trust. Another person’s input often reframes events, giving you objectivity, reassurance and affirmation.
  4. Write a letter to the person who spoke the hurtful words – pour out how you felt when they said them and how you feel now. Let it all out. When you’ve finished, don’t read it, either tear it up and flush it down the lavatory or burn it. Don’t send it!! 🙂
  5. Forgive. I’ve had to do this. It needed a lot of prayer and determination and sometimes it seemed like it was a case of two steps forward and one step backwards.  But it made a MASSIVE difference – forgiving others is one of the best gifts you give yourself.
  6. Remember that forgiveness doesn’t mean that you have to go back to the same situation – you can set boundaries or make adjustments. Sometimes, you need to ask God to bless someone and then let them go out of your life.
  7. Ask God to help you overcome the pain, anger, feelings of rejection etc then believe that He will.
  8. If you have been a long term victim of verbal abuse, you may benefit from seeing a counsellor or other expert.

It is possible to overcome hurtful words – I know this from personal experience of years of negative input.  Make a decision to move beyond the pain of hurtful words, pray, trust and believe.

Join us on Face Book – you’ll be very welcome 🙂 If you found this post helpful, you’ll enjoy: Forgiveness and  We’ve All Been That Dog That Walked 30 Miles: dealing with rejection

Nina Franklyn Bsc[Hons], PCCCA, RSA [Tefl]  is a qualified life coach, with a special interest in goals, success and influence. She runs    popular workshops as well as offering 1:1 life coaching, often via phone or email, for people who are serious about creating a better life or following their purpose.  email: move_mountains@ymail.com

5 thoughts on “Overcoming Hurtful Words

  1. I am constantly reminded of human vulnerability when I see how many affirmations it requires to lift someone back up after a single negative criticism. I’ve been particularly sensitive to this in writing groups where so many novices are incapable of accepting the sincerely constructive “criticism” that most of us welcome. The reason, of course, is that they have been wounded so acutely in the past they need deep healing. Fortunately, God offers just that.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to add this very perceptive comment. Words can wound – and as you say God offers us deep healing.

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    1. Hello. First of all I am so sorry not to have replied sooner. I will of course pray for your relationship with your daughter. It might help if I tell you that as a child some deeply hurtful words were spoken to me – repeatedly.Overcoming this wasn’t an overnight deal – it took grit and prayer.But I got there! Now and again I feel a twinge and when that happens I pray for the ability to forgive and for any residual impact to disperse. I’m going to be posting about gratitude very soon – and that will help your daughter. Very best wishes.

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