Speech, as it evolved over millennia, underwent a multitude of drastic and underlying changes. Its dynamics were ever-changing and relative to time, place, culture, and social class. Yet, certain elements of speech that remained undivided and constant were words.
They matter, especially the right ones.
In today’s world, one’s words are vast: both in their volume and reach. Despite this, most of us are more careless with our words than ever – preferring to spew them over things that scarcely matter, as opposed to directing them towards issues and instances that truly hold weight, be it social or personal.
Words are capable of altering the expression of genes that have control over the human body’s physical and emotional capacity. Positively reaffirming phrases, containing words such as ‘love’ or ‘hope’ strengthen one’s emotional wellbeing. Upon hearing such words, the brain’s cognitive functioning is heavily improved. That is why it is said the smallest acts of kindness make the biggest difference.
Positivity is scientifically proven to enhance one’s functions and overall better their life. Hence it is recommended to adopt a friendly demeanor especially in terms of language.
However, an unfriendly verbal expression of one’s thoughts and feelings can disrupt specific genes. Sentences tainted with abusive language or hate speech can result in an accumulation of negative feelings. This disturbs genes that are responsible for producing neurochemicals and protecting an individual from stress and anxiety. A harsh and hostile tone is thus, capable of reversing the function of the production of neurochemicals.
A singular negative word can increase the activity in a person’s amygdala (the fear center of the brain). This releases dozens of stress-producing hormones and neurotransmitters, which paves way for an interruption of the brain’s functions. Proven in daily life, negative usage of language is considered verbal abuse and can be severely debilitating to one’s mental health. This can lead to either aggression or long-term depression and self-hatred.
The power of negative language can be seen in concepts such as ‘gas-lighting’.
Toxicity in all kinds of relationships usually starts with verbal humiliation or shaming a person. If we take a historical look at the usage of language, the regime of white supremacy which was used by the colonizers was mainly rooted in using negative language to create an inferiority complex within the people that fell victim to their abuse. Years of this led to hate of darker skin and other derogatory societal attitudes – be it on the basis of race, gender, or religion.
After much scientific and psychological reasoning provided by professionals, the simple fact is that words hold the utmost significance in one’s life. Most individuals seem to overlook this fact and inevitably create a hostile environment for themselves and the people they socialize with. This explains why most social circles disregard sexist, racist, xenophobic, politically incorrect and hurtful comments, by irresponsibly referring to them as mere ‘comedy’.
Wellness counselors and therapists claim that words hold the power of making and breaking an individual’s self-esteem and confidence. It is the social and ethical responsibility of the youth to educate themselves and wisely choose the voice they give to their thoughts.
Therefore, words, as mentioned earlier, are remarkably the most powerful force humanity possesses. Humans have created intact networks, societies, and continue to sustain a global village based on a mere exchange of words. To foster a kinder environment for humans to thrive in, one must choose this force constructively with words of encouragement and love.