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MAKE THE DIFFERENCE With gentle speech
MAKE THE DIFFERENCE With gentle speech

Look for opportunities to brighten someone's life with kind words

Anger can make even the most logical of us into ranting creatures. Anger makes us lose our in-built radar. We flounder on our path and let fly with hurtful words.

Words spoken in anger can wound, lacerate and leave emotional scars. These hurtful words will replay again and again in our minds. They will linger in our psyche, sometimes for days and weeks. Childhood taunts burrow into our mind and then may reappear unexpectedly. Therefore, the pain caused by hurtful words is not easily forgotten or assuaged. There are some people who justify their hurtful words by saying, “She needs to know, I am being brutally honest just for her sake.' This is a very self-indulgent statement. Being ‘brutally honest' may actually focus on the brutality rather than the honesty.

Why do we hurt the ones we love?

Paradoxically, people we love have the power to hurt us most. Family and close friends are the most vulnerable when it comes to being hurt. Those who are closest to us have the unfair advantage of knowing our weaknesses. This intimate knowledge of our soft spots allows them to sometimes annihilate us with words.

Verbal abuse

Abuse need not be only physical. Verbal abuse is an insidious but sure way of humiliating someone repeatedly. It can make one lose one's self-esteem. Verbal abuse does not only occur when someone is raising his or her voice. It can be a form of intimidation. It can be abusive just by constantly making fun of someone. Mean and harsh words could be used to control and manipulate.

Like all forms of abuse, the perpetrator tries to excuse his behaviour by saying, “She deserved it, she is making me do this”.

Words cannot be taken back

Before we utter words that may inflict pain, it is important to take a deep breath and weigh our options. Letting go of our inhibitions and giving a person a piece of our mind may be momentarily satisfying but no amount of apologizing will take the relationship back to its unflawed perfection.

Pain is inevitable: suffering is optional

There is no question that life is full of painful situations. It is within our realm of control to decide how much we are going to suffer. If someone is going to make your life miserable with constant verbal abuse, it is time to distance oneself from that person. It is important to protect your self-esteem and not let someone wear you down with judgmental and venomous words.

Using words to heal

Loving and kind words are often more difficult to utter than thoughtless and cruel words. Everyday, you must look for an opportunity to brighten someone's life with a kind word. Children often remember the one friend who stood by them when all the others were making fun of them. Similarly, kind and sympathetic words spoken from the heart can make the difference between bleak suffering and acceptance.

Forgiveness can place you firmly on the path to healing. The words ‘I forgive you' can invest you with strength and courage to go on after pardoning the person who inflicted so much pain on you.

GITA ARJUN

The author is an obstetrician and gynaecologist

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