By Jenniffer Mann
When we think about our health, the immediate things that spring to mind revolve around, diet and exercise, we might expand this to include our mental health and to throw something else into the mix that involves our general well-being, I want us to consider the importance of people!
We live in an age where there has been an increasing focus on superheroes. Gone are the days of the Six Million Dollar Man, The A-Team and Night Rider. Today, heroes of comic life have been brought to the big screen in an unprecedented way. Whether a Marvel fan or DC, the line-up of skill sets is pretty impressive. Lets take:
- Superman – The quintessential all-rounder. In the world of superheroes he’ll always feature in most people’s top five.
- The Hulk – His power comes to the fore when angry – he has an immeasurable amount of strength.
- Thor – Has the ability to control the weather.
- Captain America – The super solider with amazing strength, reflexes and athleticism.
- Iron Man – A brilliant mind with the financial resources to take technological advancement to dizzying heights.
I could literally go on with this list and some time and will no doubt have offended someone by not mentioning a superhero they consider worthy. In my defence, my list is purely to illustrate a point and not to choose favourites!
When it comes to superhero talk people often joke about what superpower they would have if they could choose one. The list of possibilities is pretty impressive ranging from invisibility, flying, super strength, teleportation, time-travel and more
But what if I told you, that all of us, already possess a super power?
I sense your confusion but it’s true! We have the power of words! The words you speak, literally have the power to crush someone’s Spirit or bring healing! Proverbs 15:6 says:
“The soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.”Proverbs 15:6
Words have the power to evoke intense reactions. I’m not advocating this next illustration but if you stood in the middle of a crowded shopping area and shouted “Bomb!” at the top of your lungs, the reaction would be predictable. Without questioning people would likely scatter with determined speed. That’s because the connotations associated with this word are rarely if ever, positive. The power of words.
The negative energy it takes to think on and spew words of discouragement, hurt and unkindness can only come from a spirit of malcontent. In order to speak a word, it needs to start as a thought and our thoughts are often generated by external factors. Our environment, what we see, watch, hear and those with whom we are in close contact. You may not be aware that this form of conditioning forms habits that determine behaviour.
Remember as child saying, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Well here’s the thing! Negative words do actually hurt. In their neuroscience experiment, “Do Words Hurt?”, Maria Richter and collaborating scientists monitored subjects’ brain responses to auditory and imagined negative words. During this process, they discovered painful or negative words increase Implicit Processing and release stress and anxiety-inducing hormones in subjects. Additionally, a study found increased levels of anxiety in children associated with higher rates of negative self-talk.
So In order to derive the greatest degree of benefit to our wellbeing we need to consider the people we allow ourselves to be influenced by. History is awash with examples of how words matter. Hitler galvanised thousands to commit the worst atrocities, with the power of speech. When Martin Luther King said “I have a dream” little did he know how impactful those words would be in years to come.
Next week we will explore some of what the bible has to say about the power of words but as you go through the week ahead. Think about the quality of your interactions with others and if your tongue, is a ‘soothing tree of life’ or if it is ‘crushing the Spirit’.
Father, let the words of mouth and the mediations of my heart be acceptable in your sight.