Words have power


I’ve always interpreted the phrase “words have power,” as meaning the words that you say can affect others. However, it’s only recently that I discovered that phrase has another meaning.

While I’ve often worried about how my words affect those around me, I have never stopped to contemplate how the words floating around me each day are affecting me. The words I read in my books, or the words I hear my friends say. The words online, on social media, in the news– all of them silently shape the way I think and who I am at my core.

I had often noticed how reading a sad book would put a dark cloud over my day, but I never really saw the magnitude of what was happening. It started slowly at first with a book about ballerinas. Tiny, skinny, little ballerinas. And all of a sudden, I was noticing the little extra fat on my thighs. The pretty, perfect ballerinas in the story starved themselves and watched what went into their bodies so carefully. Before I realized what was happening, I started to put a cookie in my mouth and then stopped when I thought “you don’t need those extra carbs.”

And after that first experience, I noticed the changes everywhere.

A feeling of power after reading a book about heroes in another realm. A feeling of depression after a book about a child that struggled with suicide. A feeling of fear and paranoia after a book about a school shooting. And while the feeling was most intense during and after the book, a part of each story has always stayed with me. A part of that power, a part of the depression, the fear, the paranoia. Each of those parts changing who I am and how I interact with the world around me.

But the effects don’t just come from the books you read. Little parts of almost every encounter you have every single day stay with you. The language you hear around school, in music and movies you play, or those around you. The feeling you get when you read someone’s spam post on Instagram. Those things don’t just go in one ear and out the other; they stay with you whether you realize it or not.

So although the saying “words have power” may, to most people, refer to their words affecting others. Always be aware of the ways in which others words are affecting you.