Words Can Hurt...Words Can Heal
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me." Well, this old saying isn't exactly true-because harsh words sure can hurt your feelings!
"Words Can Heal" is a national media and educational campaign that aims to reduce gossip, eliminate verbal violence, and promote the healing power of words. We have already been better Americans and nicer human beings since September 11, as demonstrated by our compassionate response to the tragedy. Now that we know how much kindness we are capable of, let us strive to keep up the good work. While we are re-evaluating our lives and re-ordering our priorities as a result of this crisis, the "Words Can Heal" message will help to make us more aware of the words we speak and the way we communicate. By valuing and practicing the ethical use of speech, we can build up our society and bring respect, honor and dignity back to our country.
Author Tim Stafford, in his book That's Not What I Meant!, says: “Words can hurt. Words can heal. Therefore it is of the utmost importance that we pay attention to our words.” Dr. Robert H. Schuller, founding pastor of Crystal Cathedral and "Hour of Power" host says, "I am convinced that words have enormous power. They are either bombs or balms. They level us or they can lift us. They carry with them power to connect with the memory system that can release healing powers or destructive powers." According to Irwin Katsof, Co-Executive Director for the independent non-profit organization called WordsCanHeal.org: "We need to reduce the gossip and verbal abuse that is behind so much pain in our society. This campaign offers free educational tools for schools, children, families and businesses in order to help heal our country."
You can play a key role in this project to improve our society and make a difference at home, school, in the community and workplace. By doing so, you will enhance your interpersonal relationships at every level, from the most intimate to the most casual. The central focus of the "Words Can Heal" effort is to encourage people to sign the pledge and to log on to www.wordscanheal.org where they will find excellent advice for children, families and businesses, and hopefully take advantage of these free educational tools to learn and internalize valuable lessons and techniques for reducing gossip and verbal abuse.
The Words Can Heal Handbook
How do you react when your friend cracks a joke about you at a party? What should a mother say to her daughter who tattles on a sibling? How do you respond to a rumor about a neighbor? What should an employee do if his boss asks him to snitch on a colleague? Chaim Feld, Irwin Katsof and Hilary Rich are co-authors of The Words Can Heal Handbook: How Changing Your Words Can Transform Your Life and the Lives of Others. This book has gotten a strong response from a wide variety of people, from Hollywood celebrities to America's business and spiritual leaders- including Michael Medved, Robert Schuller, Zig Ziglar, Florence Henderson, Jack Canfield (author of the Chicken Soup for the Soul series), N. Scott Momaday, Goldie Hawn, Bette Midler, Neil Simon, Tom Cruise, Newt Gingrich, Jack Kemp, Bob Dole, and many others.
The Words Can Heal Handbook is filled with tips and tools to help the reader succeed in using words to heal, along with poignant stories that offer insights into the importance of improving our language. It will help you in every situation in which words have an impact on your relationships-at work, at home, at school, on the soccer field, at parties, and at church. At www.wordscanheal.org, you can read an online version of the handbook, download parts of it for free, or order a copy. Or you can purchase one by calling 1-866-WordscanHeal (1-866-967-3722). Proceeds go to benefit "Words Can Heal" Educational Programs.
The Words Can Heal Free E-Newsletter
The semi-monthly e-mail newsletter is free and full of interesting tips, stories and information on how to use words in a helpful manner. Sign up at www.wordscanheal.org.
Words Can Heal Kits
The kits were developed to promote the use of positive language in the family and workplace. Each kit includes tools and tips, a "Words Can Heal" bookmark, pledge card and sticker. Order the kits at www.wordscanheal.org or by calling 1-866-WordscanHeal (1-866-967-3722). Proceeds go to benefit "Words Can Heal" Educational Programs.
Ten Tips for Healing with Words
1. Bite your tongue before you gossip; your tongue will hurt, but your friends won't.
2. Stop yourself from gossiping by changing the subject mid-sentence; only you will notice.
3. Never say derogatory things about yourself; people might agree with you.
4. Never use humor to put others down; joking around usually comes around.
5. Speak sweetly, so if you have to eat your words, they won't taste so bad.
6. The gossip game always takes turns; the only way to avoid being "it" is to stop playing.
7. Trust makes a friendship; gossip takes it away.
8. You are the proud owner of a set of ears; use them at your own discretion.
9. To get friends who won't gossip about you, be a friend who won't gossip about them.
10. Stamp out gossip by voting with your feet; just walk away if someone gossips.
Ten Tips for Teens
1. Say nice things about the people around you and they'll do the same for you.
2. Avoid the gossip game; tomorrow you might be "it."
3. When someone confides in you, keep the secret, even from your best friend! You want the same for your secrets, right?
4. Respect yourself for your many talents and great features. Do the same for your siblings and classmates. Appreciate your differences and don't judge. Every person is special in their own way.
5. Give others the benefit of the doubt, and reach out. Maybe the person you think is a snob is just shy, or the kid making fun of you is jealous of your nice family or good grades.
6. Chat rooms and e-mail are fun, but they are not confidential. With the click of a mouse button, hundreds could be reading your real opinion of your friend's new jacket, and your friendship could be ruined, perhaps forever.
7. If you are being teased or ridiculed, don't let the bullies win by believing their taunts. They are the ones who have a character problem, not you! Stand your ground!
8. Use the 3 P's-Prevent, Prepare, Protect-if you are being teased or bullied.* Prevent means learning to know when you might be in a "situation," and getting help from an adult when necessary. Prepare to make the first move by being ready to use nonviolent alternatives, like humor or trying to make friends with the bully. Protect means getting self-defense training, like tae kwon do. Hopefully you'll never have to use it, but man, you'll have confidence. (*From T.W. Doyle's "Why is Everybody Picking on Me: A Guide to Handling Bullies.")
9. Remember, there are at least two sides to every story. It is far better to help make peace among your family members and friends than to contribute to the quarrel.
10. Disagree with respect, and avoid harsh words with your parents, siblings, and friends. A harsh word said in haste can take a long time to erase.
The "Words Can Heal" Pledge
The goal of the Words Can Heal organization is to have 100,000 people make the following simple commitment: "I pledge to think more about the words I use. I will try to see how gossip hurts people, including myself, and work to eliminate it from my life. I will try to replace words that hurt with words that encourage, engage and enrich. I will not become discouraged when I am unable to choose words perfectly, because making the world a better place is hard work. And I am pledging to do that, one word at a time." Take this pledge and then tell your friends!
Did You Know…?
According to the National Education Association, 160,000 children skip school each day because of intimidation by their peers. A National Institute of Health study revealed that nearly one third of 6th to 10th graders-5.7 million children nationwide-have experienced some kind of bullying. "Bullying. It's a childhood rite of passage. Just ignore it. You'll get over it. Except most likely you won't." -Tom Neven
THE WOUNDED SPIRIT, by Frank Peretti
The fellowship of "The Wounded Spirit" is one that includes boys and girls, men and women, rich and poor, educated and uneducated, and people from all ethnic backgrounds. What they have in common are soul-searing injuries that result from ridicule and rejection. Frank Peretti, the best-selling author of supernatural thrillers This Present Darkness and The Oath, knows firsthand. He's one of the many walking wounded who suffered at the hands of classmates-and sometimes teachers. Peretti believes a large number of adults carry some kind of psychological hurt from their childhood years.
In The Wounded Spirit, Peretti's first nonfiction book, he tells his own story, and also shows us how to heal these invisible but crippling wounds. This is really three books in one. The first section is autobiographical. Even though Peretti grew up in a loving Christian home, he describes his junior high school years, particularly the physical education classes, in harrowing terms. He blames the school system's attitude of "that's just the way things are….not one adult anywhere said, 'What's happening to you is wrong.'"
The second section addresses the question of why people treat others in such a cruel manner. It includes some compelling arguments against moral relativism highlighted by correlations to the Columbine incident. Peretti believes that everyone, even victims, can be bullies themselves. "It's easy to be mean," he says. Girls can be bullies just as much as boys, he adds. "Boys are more into the physical stuff. The girls are more into the social. They'll ostracize, insult, leave out, ignore, put down a girl."
The final section contains some excellent thoughts on how teachers and parents can help, and illustrates in some powerful ways how we can turn our wounds into something positive through forgiveness. The book jacket states that the author champions the rights of the "undersized, oversized, klutzy, less than beautiful, nerds, and those that are just, somehow, different." This is a must read for parents, teachers, classroom aides, counselors, school administrators, junior high/high school students, clergy, and even employers and supervisors.
"If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain; if I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain, or help one fainting robin into his nest again, I shall not live in vain." -Emily Dickinson
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These pages are a continuous work in progress.