Friday, August 4, 2017

All Words are Physical

If I harm someone with my words, this is a physical action.  


If I insult or degrade another person with my words, it starts first with a thought in my brain to do so.  Then my diaphragm expands with breath, my tongue moves, and with a puff of air, the words are spoken - a physical action.

Next, those words are carried through the air as sound waves which then physically strike the other person's ear drums.  The vibration of the ear drums is interpreted by the person's brain, and the message is received.  Not only that, but research in neuroscience is showing more and more how the verbal and visual messages we receive from each other physically change our brains.  Thus, continuous insults by me to another person literally change their brain physically overtime.  That sound wave struck their eardrums, which in turn literally changed the physical nature of their brain, especially if repeated over time.  This is why I am arguing that all verbal abuse is physical.  Oh, and by the way, physically changing each other's brains also affects our physical health over time.  Thus, according to much research, verbally abused persons have more health problems and live shorter lives.  

Thus, if I say to myself, "at least I don't hit my kids", then that is a very good thing, but it does not mean that I am not physically harming my spouse, partner, or kids.  My verbal insults, criticisms, and neglect physically abuse them over time.

The flip side is that all verbal affirmation is physical.  Every time we say good things to one another, those sound waves also strike the other's eardrums and are interpreted by the other person's brain.  We physically help the other person's brain grow physically with each affirmation.  Thus, all affirmation is physical as well.

There is wisdom literature of old that says, "When we speak to one another, it is as if we are able to speak the words of God to each other."  This is how powerful our words of affirmation can be.  We can physically transform the brains of one another.  Oh, and by the way, listening to one another is one way we speak to each other as well.  Our listening is a part of language and is a physical act as well.  Listen, talk, and affirm - these things will physically reconstruct our brains over a lifetime.  In turn, our physical health can also be strengthened by the physical nature of our verbal affirmations.  We help each other live longer, healthier lives through the affirmations we give to one another.

One might be tempted to enter shameful thoughts such as, "Oh great, now I know I am a physical abuser, not just verbal abuser!"  However, the hope we have is that we can start wherever we are starting at.  Life is a journey and a process.  We can only start from where we are starting at.  We can always try to do good, even in the midst of all the bad.  Maybe one way to start is to simply say to ourselves, "I might not know how to change yet, but I desire to change.  I don't want to verbally insult and criticize my close loved ones anymore.  I want to try to do good to them."  Maybe from simply having the desire or asking for the desire to come, we can make some sort of a start towards doing good to one another - reconstructing our brains and our bodies.

(photo taken from flickr creative commons with permission from "Search Engine People Blog" at