Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me. How true do you suppose this statement is?
According to a study by Martin Teicher at Harvard Medical School the human brain takes decades to develop. The personality, cognitive ability and skills develop differently in each person because each of us is guided by our experiences during childhood and adolescence.
When the environment is hostile and abusive the development of the brain is affected. Human brain imaging studies have shown that with sexual or physical abuse, or even witnessing domestic violence, this can cause abnormal physical changes in the developing brain of children. Abuse can cause psychological disorders to occur.
According to Martin Teicher’s study published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, young adults between the ages of 18-25, having no history of exposure to sexual abuse, domestic violence, or physical abuse BUT had received exposure as children to verbal abuse by either parents or peers were given a brain scan. The results showed that the adolescence had underdeveloped connections between the left and right sides of their brain through the bundles of connecting fibers, called the corpus callosum. When given psychological tests the study showed that the same adolescence had higher levels of drug abuse, depression, anxiety, anger, hostility, than others in the study.
In another study by Michael Miller reported in Neuropsychologia, he shows that moral reasoning depends upon the exchange of information between specific regions of the left and right brain. Each side of the brain controls certain abilities. For example, speech is controlled by the left side while attention takes place on the right side. Neuroimaging studies have shown that the moral beliefs of people are performed by a spot in the right brain called the right temporal parietal junction. With the disconnection of both sides of the brain moral reasoning was affected. The patients in case studies failed to detect common social blunders, etiquette, and societal norms.
Miller, M.B., et al., (2010) Abnormal moral reasoning in complete and partial colostomy patients. Neuropsychologia 48, 2215-2220.
Words do hurt. Verbal abuse from peers during the middle school years can be very damaging because the brain connections are developing. The social environment that children are raised in molds their mind. These studies show that childhood experience alters the physical structure of the brain. Childhood experience can either help develop a healthy functional brain or can stunt brain development causing possible psychological disorders or impairment in moral judgments.
Even as an adult, words can hurt and harm, reinforcing childhood traumas and triggering unhealthy emotions. Self awareness is bound up in words. We think words, speak words, and talk in words. If someone calls you a negative name the reactions may be internalized. You feel inferior because someone may have said something negative about you.
Words can follow us from childhood. If you were called stupid or lazy by an adult or peer you may have accepted this as true and so you begin to act stupid or lazy because you have accepted this as a truth. You can even sabotage yourself by speaking negative words that others have spoken to you.
Psychologists call this a Self Fulfilling Prophecy which is a prediction that causes itself to come true because the prediction was made. This happens because our beliefs influence our actions.
The Bible says that, “for as he thinketh in his heart, so is he.” Proverbs 23:7
Whatever we believe about ourselves is what we will experience because words affect how we live and act.
Death and life [are] in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof. Proverbs 18:21
Learning to change our language is a challenge but well worth the effort. Learning to disregard the negative words of others is another challenge, but one that is essential for our psychological and emotional heath. Our belief can be in either the word of God or in the words of people. We can believe what God has to say about us and our situation or we can believe what the Nay Sayers have to say.
While sticks and stones may very well break your bones, words will also hurt you. Choose life! Choose to believe what God’s word has to say about you! God’s word is above every other word!
Forever, O Lord, Thy Word is settled in heaven. Psalms ll9:89.
Scriptures about spoken words.
Matthew 15:18 – But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man.
Proverbs 12:18 – There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise [is] health.
Ephesians 4:29 – Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Proverbs 16:24 – Pleasant words [are as] an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.
Colossians 3:8 – But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.
Proverbs 13:3 – He that keepeth his mouth keepeth his life: [but] he that openeth wide his lips shall have destruction.
Matthew 12:37 – For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.
James 1:26 – If any man among you seem to be religious, and bridleth not his tongue, but deceiveth his own heart, this man’s religion [is] vain.
Proverbs 15:1 – A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.
Proverbs 21:23 – Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.
Psalms 19:14 – Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be acceptable in thy sight, O LORD, my strength, and my redeemer.
Proverbs 29:20 – Seest thou a man [that is] hasty in his words? [there is] more hope of a fool than of him.
Proverbs 15:4 – A wholesome tongue [is] a tree of life: but perverseness therein [is] a breach in the spirit.
Proverbs 17:28 – Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: [and] he that shutteth his lips [is esteemed] a man of understanding.
Proverbs 15:2 – The tongue of the wise useth knowledge aright: but the mouth of fools poureth out foolishness.
Proverbs 25:11 – A word fitly spoken [is like] apples of gold in pictures of silver.
Proverbs 17:27 – He that hath knowledge spareth his words: [and] a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit.
Luke 6:45 – A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh.
Proverbs 10:19 – In the multitude of words there wanteth not sin: but he that refraineth his lips [is] wise.
Proverbs 18:20 – A man’s belly shall be satisfied with the fruit of his mouth; [and] with the increase of his lips shall he be filled.
James 3:6 – And the tongue [is] a fire, a world of iniquity: so is the tongue among our members, that it defileth the whole body, and setteth on fire the course of nature; and it is set on fire of hell.
James 3:8 – But the tongue can no man tame; [it is] an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.
Proverbs 12:25 – Heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop: but a good word maketh it glad.