Words have power … so much that they are capable of causing very intense emotional pain. As if we received a blow, as if our soul was smashed directly and our heart was cut into a thousand pieces.
However, this effect will only occur if the words come from a person who has meaning for us: our partner, a family member, a friend. It is a break in the axis that keeps us in balance, it is a feeling of aggression that emanates from someone who is very close to us.
Language is not just a collection of words that have been assigned a meaning, which we inherit and learn in a social and cultural context. In reality , language is primarily a form of communication and the conveyance of emotions. Here it is also the tone and the facial expression that “communicate”.
In the course of our lives we can get many a comment that hardly seems appropriate, badly hit or badly meant. But we just let the majority of them pass us by and they don’t leave any traces in our brain. However, what really leaves a mark or even a scar are the words that come from the mouths of loved ones.
We have all kept in the dark basement of our memories this derogatory sentence that some close family member has held up to us. It may also be that you still remember certain sentences or words that were uttered by the person you were so fond of.
Words that leave scars
We should always note that no one is exempt from having dropped a more or less appropriate “word” in a moment that hurts or annoys someone. It can be something very selective. However, a problem arises when we experience something more than words, when we experience harmful communication and lack of affect from someone.
Paul Watzlawick, a famous Austrian communication and language expert, came up with an interesting theory, which he titled “devaluation”. It shows the destructive power of words in humane communication. It most commonly occurs in the following forms:
- Depreciation: In this type of communication, a certain type of word is used, which primarily seeks to decrease the person’s value. Everything that the person says or does is denied meaning, discrediting language is used, which reduces the value of the person as a whole, the value of his entire essence. It’s something really destructive.
- The disqualification: In this case it is not just a matter of reducing the value of the person, but of denying him any value. So it goes one step further and sayings like “you are useless for nothing”, “you are the most useless person in the world”, or “you can’t hold a candle to anyone”.
- The devaluation: This degree of communication goes so far as to regard the person as a whole as null and void. While in the previous definitions we have only taken it down in value or degraded it, here we go on to ignore it. It doesn’t matter whether a child does something good or bad, it is simply ignored. It doesn’t matter whether the partner is on the side of the person he loves, whether he is there or not, he remains in the void. As if it doesn’t exist at all.
How to deal with hurtful words
There are sometimes those who cannot communicate, who lack the appropriate tools to offer emotional closeness, respect, and appreciation. It is that type of person who speaks almost without thinking and who hurts others without even realizing it (at least in the majority of cases).
Throughout our lives we have found ourselves in such situations. We should learn to deal with the pain we feel because of certain words that people close to us say. The key to doing this is as follows:
- We have to look at what personality this person has. It is possible that our parents, or even a brother, have the following trait: They lack emotional and respectful communication. If so, then it is something that we should accept, but always make it clear at every moment “that you are hurting.”
- If this communication is always aggressive and violates our rights and extends to disqualification, then it is clear that one should not develop the given relationship. It is a form of abuse and so we defend ourselves and build the necessary distance.
- For example, if your partner uses ironic words a lot, understand that this is also a form of personal injury. Don’t let that happen.
- Understand from the start that the way a person uses their words says a lot about their character. If you are uncomfortable with a particular person’s language, then you “don’t fit” that person.
We can all, at a given moment, succumb to giving or receiving hurtful words from ourselves. If it is a punctual event, don’t hesitate to express your discomfort, annoyance, and hurt out loud. Use personalization and let the other person see what they would feel if they were in your place.
One of the main problems with communication is not that we don’t listen to understand, but that we only listen to answer, and this is where those words come about that hurt.
Images courtesy of Art in the Dark and Beth Joole