Sticks and stones may break your bones but names can never hurt you.
I was bullied often as a child, and I remember my mom used to tell me this often.
We now know, of course, that this isn’t true. In fact, the scars left by verbal assaults often linger far longer than the scars of physical abuse.
Even worse, we often internalize what was said to us and that becomes our self-talk.
One line that resonated with me:
Be careful how you talk to your kids; that’s how they’ll talk to themselves.
None of this is “news.” All ancient wisdoms speak about the power of words.
Judaism is a religion of words. God created the universe with words. Much of the faith revolves around the Torah, the 5 Mosaic books, the writings and the prophets, and the various commentaries on the Torah by the sages.
And the day revolves around prayer.
No day is as intense on prayer as Yom Kippur. We spend a day praying to ask for forgiveness and to be inscribed in the book of life.
Among the many prayers we say on Yom Kippur is a confessional; a list of the ways we have sinned.
Each year as I sit and pray on Yom Kippur I notice how many of the confessions relate to words:
- how we speak
- what we say
- what we talk about
Lies. Deceit. Slander. Gossip. Idle chatter.
It is a potent area for reflection.
This holiday period asks us to consider how we show up, how we use our time, and perhaps most important of all: how we use our words.
Words are powerful. They can create worlds or destroy worlds. They can create healing or hurt. We get to choose.
- How do you speak to or about others?
- How do you speak to or about yourself?
- How are you using your words?
words are powerful
they create reality
choose yours carefully