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It seems like such a simple thing—to notice something nice about another person and to speak it to them. However, when we are on the receiving end of a compliment, it doesn’t feel like a small, insignificant gesture.  Sharing kind words in tiny moments can bring sweetness and connection. Healing words offer an inoculation of hope and link us together.

Affirming words should not be reserved solely for those closest to us

Affirming words should not be reserved solely for those closest to us. Countless friendships have begun when one stranger took a risk and crossed the bridge to another stranger through the vehicle of kind words. Many of us think of positive words to share, but we feel reticent to speak them.

The Positive Effect of Kind Words

We talk ourselves out of taking the risk to speak what we are feeling for fear that it may seem too forward, could be misconstrued, or be perceived as awkwardly out of place. But even when the giving and receiving of kind words occurs between two people who may never meet again, it makes the world a softer and safer place for both. It feels good. Both people are lifted and can now go forward to touch the world more gently because of this positive exchange.

Increased Levels of Connection

In this study in the Journal of the Association for Psychological Science, researchers from UC Riverside noted how positive activities increased well-being. They found that people can increase their level of connection to others through intentional, positive activities such as offering kindness and expressing affirming thoughts and gratitude to others.

Words Can Bless. Words Can Curse.

Words can bless. Words can curse. They can bring us together, or they can create walls (and worse) between us. Our own self-talk, which becomes so reflexive that we do not realize we are doing it, is often fraught with blistering self-criticism and recrimination. We would never speak so unkindly to another person in this manner. This negative self-talk erodes our self-esteem creating self-defeating behaviors. The habit of using words of affirmation and kindness begins with our self-practice. As we internalize this healing habit, we can gain confidence in our ability to connect with others through words of compassion.

We all have experienced how devastating it feels to be the recipient of thoughtless and unkind words. It negatively impacts both parties. Speaking harsh words creates guilt and regret and once those words are spoken, trying to take them back is like trying to put the toothpaste back into the tube — we usually wind up making an even bigger mess. Because no one is exempt from verbal missteps, saying “I’m sorry” can be a soothing balm on the emotional wound and can perhaps initiate a new, stronger connection.

Adversity prompts us to quickly realize that love does not grow by keeping it a secret and leaving it unspoken.

Explore practicing this practice to use before speaking. It instructs us in this manner: “Before you speak, let your words pass through 3 gates. At the first gate, ask yourself, “Is it true?” At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?” At the third gate, “Is it kind?”

When an accident, an illness, a natural disaster or a personal tragedy occurs, we feel the urgency to speak what is in our heart. Suddenly our shyness, our fears of intimacy, our petty grievances and our catalog of past offenses no longer matter. What we want is for our family and friends to know how much we love them. We realize that saving our “I love yous” for only special occasions is a mistake. Adversity prompts us to quickly realize that love does not grow by keeping it a secret and leaving it unspoken.

Words have the power to inflict pain or promote peace, to create separation, or to foster connection. Heightening our daily awareness of how we use our words will help us to choose them more carefully and compassionately. Mother Teresa reminds us of the long lasting, transformational power of healing words with these words of her own, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”

Do you recall a time when another’s kind words were healing for you?

 

 

 

Contributed by

Mimi O' Connor
Group Support Specialist

Hearts linked, together we heal…

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