Why do words hurt so much? They are just words, right? But words do hurt. Humans have very successfully created a wonderful array of words over centuries. We communicate effectively with one another so that we can keep pushing forward as a human race. When you look at it like this, it seems very logical, right? So again, why do certain words and phrases hurt us so much and cause us complete and utter chaos? Well, the simple answer is that all humans, with our ever so complex brains, have naturally developed an association between certain words and phrases and certain types of emotions and experiences. Not only this, we have also successfully developed the ability to listen to tone and view the body language illustrated whilst communicating such words.
Words from the past
If you were repeatedly put down as a child or by a toxic partner for example, you can naturally associate the pain you experienced whilst these words were being spoken to that of words communicated by another in the present or future. This is regardless of whether these words were being said directly by the original perpetrator or by another person entirely. Such words dictated or the manner that they are spoken in can then trigger a greater sense of failure and worthlessness beyond our level of thinking. This in turn can cause an undesirable level of stress over our minds and bodies.
Lyrics too can have a similar effect on our human emotions. Whilst one may listen to some music and feel quite upbeat and focus entirely on just the rhythm, another may absorb the lyrics and link the words to their individual experiences and emotions. I have several songs on my playlist that I can associate to a particular time or an event in my life. Some of them contain lyrics that I can also relate to, thus triggering a wonderful array of emotions.
Words do hurt, and we absorb and store them
Words can never be retracted once spoken, nor can they be entirely dismissed. Our brain has the natural ability to absorb and store memories which include language, thoughts and feelings. We all have a very different and unique way of processing and storing this information. And we can also choose how to act on this information given to us. We all have a choice as to whether to follow through on our words or dismiss these words entirely. This is precisely how our actions speak louder than words, and how we fulfil our promises: by simply demonstrating exactly what we say and what we have learnt.
Hurting ourselves with words
If we are so against words being spoken in such an unsightly manner, then why is it that we are so hard on ourselves? For example, I wouldn’t even dream of telling someone that they are worthless, not fit for any purpose or undeserving of any kind of love. Yet I tell myself these things on a regular basis. This is precisely why words do hurt me, and in turn I simply and quickly self-destruct. They are simply words, just words made up by a toxic person’s perception of me. Yet I believe these words to be true when they are simply not.
Words may very well be just words. But not only can they hurt others, they have the power and ability for us to hurt ourselves too.
Reproduced with permission, originally published here.