The Power of Words

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Sometimes we dismiss or discredit the power of words as hocus pocus. But the recent celebration of Father’s Day underscored to me how instrumental and life-transforming words really are.

For our June shows on Living the Dream in Canada, we decided to feature men in commemoration of Father’s Day.

Never could I have imagined the education I was about to receive from the conversations I had with our men and what goes on in their psyche. Throughout all the conversations, the effects of words in their lives featured significantly.

In one episode on love and forgiveness in fatherhood, it became obvious how deeply words impact identity, esteem, and confidence. Reflecting on his experience with his father, Roger Dundas shared the void of never hearing his dad utter the words ‘son I love you’.

“The funny thing is, I know my dad loves me” he reflected, “but he’s never said it. The closest he’s ever come to relaying those words was when I was migrating and he hugged me and said ‘son I am going to miss you’,” the producer of the Father Project recounted with tears in his eyes.

Words of affirmation from the people we esteem in our lives are like water to a parched soul. Roger’s longing for those words from the most important figure in his childhood gave him the impetus to redefine his display of fatherly affection to his kids. “I tell them ‘I love you’ all the time,” the proud father of two said.

From Martins Fatola we learned of the power of words to shape the future. He credits words for distinguishing his two children among their peers.

After medics told him and his wife that they could not bear children, they did the unconventional when they finally became pregnant.

Embracing the miracle of becoming parents they decided to speak words of greatness over their children from when they were in the womb and intentionally continued this tradition throughout their lives.

“We told them you are going to be great. You are going to be greater than your peers. The children embraced those words and today they are,” Martins humbly attests of his teenage son and daughter who together have received over $500,000 in scholarships to two of the most prestigious high schools in Canada.

“They are not just academically brilliant; they are well adjusted. Everywhere we go people admire their grace and ask us how we raised these children and I tell them it is the words we speak over them, into them and support them with daily,” Martins said.

“If you are experiencing certain frustrations concerning your children today; I would suggest that you take an inventory of your words,” the three-time author advised in his book, Kingdom Parenting: Raising the Next Generation of Champions.

Growing up in the Caribbean, I can recall many playground retorts that would end with “sticks and stones can break my bones but your words can’t hurt me!” How very untrue?

Yet every kid had that in their arsenal. We grew up to believe that. The irony of it is, we were also inculcated – especially at school – with words of affirmation that had to be recited daily to imbue us with the values, ethics, and morals befitting of upstanding well-adjusted citizens.

Those same tools – words–  that on the playground we were allowed by our elders to believe were impotent to harm us, were used by them in the classroom and at home to manipulate, mold and manage us.

Words are powerful! The creative power of words brings to life the things we speak. Whether written or spoken, bellowed or whispered, sung or recited, words evoke responses. They trigger our emotions and manipulate our internal processing center. Just think how you feel when you receive an unexpected compliment or insult or hear the soulful music of Mariah Carey, Barry White or Luther Vandross! It now seems folly to underestimate the power of words.


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