Written and verified by the psychologist GetPersonalGrowth.
Last update: 15 November 2021
Words are powerful enough to cause very strong emotional pain. As if they had hit us physically, as if a direct charge broke our soul and broke our heart into a thousand pieces.
Despite this, their effect it has power only if it comes from a person who is important to us: our partner, a relative, a friend… It is like a break in our patterns and our balance and we feel an attack that comes from a very intimate bond.
The impact that language has is surprisingly long-lasting. No child will easily forget a bad word and no one can erase from their memory a verbal or communicative aggression that comes from their partner.
Language is not just a set of words associated with meanings that we inherit and learn from a social and cultural point of view. In reality, language is, first of all, a way of communicating and transmitting emotions. In these cases, even the tone of voice and facial expressions have "something to say".
In life, we can receive inappropriate, discouraging, or even nasty comments. Despite this, we let most of those words go by, which do not leave any kind of imprint on our brain. On the other hand, the ones that hurt and leave a scar are those that are said by the people we love.
We all keep in the "hidden trap" of our memory those scornful phrases that a relative told us. It may happen that, even today, you sadly remember certain phrases and certain words spoken by that person you loved so much.
Words that leave scars
We must remember that none of us can avoid "letting slip" an inappropriate word every now and then, a word that hurts or annoys someone. Nonetheless, the problem arises when we do not limit ourselves to words, but receive harmful communication and a lack of affection from someone.
Words spoken without affection or empathy are the cause of great shortcomings in human beings. They are holes made of loneliness and isolation for a child and abysses made of disappointment and bitterness for the adult hurt by their partner.
Paul Watzlawick, famous Austrian psychologist expert in communication and language, formulated an interesting theory that he called "the disconfirmation". This theory reflects the destructive power of words contained in human communication and the most common ways in which they hurt:
- The devaluation: in this type of communication a certain type of words are used which have the main purpose of diminishing the value of the other person. We take away the importance of everything the other says or does, we use a language aimed at discrediting and completely devaluing his figure, the essence of him. It is a very destructive communication.
- The disqualification: in this case, the purpose is no longer to devalue the other, but to “invalidate” him. It is a step further than devaluation and words like "you are useless", "you are the most useless person in the world", "you are not up to anyone" appear ...
- the discomfort: this level of communication comes to completely cancel a person. If in previous communications the aim was to subtract value and humiliate the other, now the aim is to "ignore". It doesn't matter if the child has done something right or wrong, it is simply ignored. It does not matter that the partner is next to the person he loves, as this is a source of "emptiness". As if it didn't exist ...
The first condition to be respected in any form of communication and use of words is respect
In life, you will surely have found yourself in similar situations. Feeling pain for some words that come from people dear to us is a situation that we must know how to deal with. Here are the key tips to follow:
- We need to consider that person's personality. For example, your parents or siblings may have the following characteristic: a lack of emotional and respectful communication. In these cases, we must accept it, but always making it clear that those words "hurt".
- If that communication is always aggressive and infringes our rights, even going so far as to nullify us, it is clear that we must not continue to cultivate that relationship. It is a form of mistreatment and, as such, it is necessary to defend oneself and keep one's distance.
- In the event that your partner, for example, makes frequent use of ironic phrases, it is necessary to understand that this is also a form of personal abuse. You don't have to allow it.
- It is necessary to understand from the outset that the determined use a person makes of words says a lot about his personality. If you are not comfortable with the language he uses, it means that you are not "working" with that person.
It can happen to everyone, once in a while, to miss out on harmful words. However, if it is a habit that recurs often, you need to clearly express your sorrow, discomfort, and pain. Use "personalization" to show the other person how they would feel if they were in your shoes.
One of the main problems of communication is that we do not listen to understand, but we listen to respond and it is then that the words that hurt occur.