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Printed from https://www.writing.com/main/newsletters/action/archives/id/11423-Words-are-Actions.html
Action/Adventure: June 22, 2022 Issue [#11423]




 This week: Words are Actions
  Edited by: Kittiara
                             More Newsletters By This Editor  

Table of Contents

1. About this Newsletter
2. A Word from our Sponsor
3. Letter from the Editor
4. Editor's Picks
5. A Word from Writing.Com
6. Ask & Answer
7. Removal instructions

About This Newsletter

What is the nicest thing that anyone has ever said to you? What is the most hurtful? The words we send out into the world can have a lasting impact.

This week's Action/Adventure Newsletter, then, is all about words and actions, and why what we say matters.

Kittiara


Word from our sponsor

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Letter from the editor

You will likely have encountered the old adage that "sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me”. I am not entirely certain where it comes from. Its intention appears to be to instil courage in those who are on the receiving end of verbal bullying or other such nastiness – to encourage them to not be affected by those words, to not let whatever is said about them define them. It’s easier said than done.

Throughout my life I have found that verbal attacks have had a much greater effect on me than anything physical. They certainly have had a longer-lasting effect. A lot of the time physical injuries will heal, but words can dig their way into various layers of your you: into your confidence, your self-esteem, your identity and even your very personality.

It is strange, in a way, how we separate physical actions and verbal actions, because words are actions. It may be argued that words can be spoken without any strong belief behind them. That they can take the form of lies and deception. But each and every word spoken or written is spoken or written by a person who chose to do so. They were sent into the world with an intention behind them, they have an impact, they can trigger or at least influence other people’s words and actions.

Besides, physical actions, too, can be done without one needing to feel any strong belief in said actions. Think, for example, of the atheist who may fold their hands and close their eyes when joining religious family members or friends in a prayer before dinner. And physical actions, too, may take the form of lies and deception. Illusionists would be out of a job if this wasn’t so. The distinction between verbal and physical action, then, isn’t as great as it may appear. Nor does the one necessarily carry greater weight than the other.

The child who is verbally threatened with a physical act next time they come to school is likely to suffer greatly from what was said. They may well feel anxious, sick, have a sleepless night, pretend to be ill so that they can stay at home. Over the longer term they may be less trusting, suffer from damage to their self-esteem, they may feel weak and helpless, like they will never fit in, and their focus at school may lessen, which in turn will affect their grades. Words can do damage. They can hurt. They can cause real harm.

It also doesn’t do to underestimate the effects of sustained verbal negativity. I recently read about a woman whose husband would regularly tell her that she smells bad. As a result, instead of showering once a day, she’d shower three times a day or more, scrubbing herself raw. Yet, it didn’t make any difference, according to him. Her self-esteem shattered. She went through the day fearful and self-conscious of her apparently bad-smelling body. Eventually she sought advice, dared to ask other people if she smelled, and gathered the courage to ask her husband why he kept telling her she smells bad when she’s so clean on herself and when nobody else thought the same. He confessed that it was something that his dad always told his mom. That he’d been told that if she thought she smelled bad, she’d never think anyone else could possibly want to be with her and, therefore, she’d never dare to leave him. His dad was wrong. This woman, thankfully, filed for divorce. Still, a lot of damage had been done, spanning generations.

I had a friend whose wider circle of acquaintances contained some less-than-pleasant characters. Whenever they were around, they’d make negative comments on his height, his weight, his hobbies and interests and just about anything else they could think of. He’d go quiet, make himself physically small, avoid their gaze, as if by doing this he could escape their attention. I called them out on their actions on several occasions and they’d shrug and laugh and claim they were just joking. When challenged further, they’d argue that my friend and I needed to grow a thicker skin, and, of course, the sticks and stones nonsense. All along, then, they’d try to place the blame for their actions on us, thus distancing themselves from any consequences. They never wondered why, if their jokes were so very funny, my friend never laughed. Why he never got to share in the fun.

As writers, we know that words have power. That goes for our spoken words, and the words we send in emails, text messages and so on, as much as for the ones we use in our art. Each word that we put out in the world is an action, and if we are to be good people, we must consider our actions with some care.

Nobody’s perfect, of course. I have said some things in the past that were better left unsaid. I will probably slip up again at some point in the future. It doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves every now and then that actions have consequences, though. For ourselves as well as for others. So, let’s try to make a positive impact. Kind and caring actions, too, can last a lifetime.

Kittiara




Editor's Picks

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Round 51 Open June 1, 2022
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Poetry Contest
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And don't forget:

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Wishing you a week filled with inspiration,

The Action/Adventure Newsletter Team

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