It’s Only Words – Affirmation


A tasty recipe for possibility or failure.

Words that heal and helpTake a couple of pronouns, mix well with a verb or two, sprinkle in an odd preposition and adjective and bake well for years on high enthusiasm and then serve directly at regular intervals.

The Bee Gees sing, “It’s only words, and words are all I have, to take your heart away. With only a few words like, “you will never achieve anything much in life;” or “you always fail at everything you start,” it’s very easy to take the heart and soul away from someone. To hear similar words on a regular basis from a father or mother we love, or a teacher we admire, will undoubtedly erode self-confidence and eventually rob all hope and possibility from your soul.

I was recently scanning documents I had found in a box in the attic and came across some old school reports. As I reread them there seemed to be a worrying theme developing;

    • Peter is a pleasant boy who has the tendency to talk too much at the right and unfortunately the wrong time.
    • Peter has a tendency to chatter too much during class.
    • Peter would do much better if he listened more and talked less.
    • His work could be much better is he refrained from small mischievous exploits in class. (I wonder what those were?)
    • In Physical Education the teacher wrote just, “little done.” Perhaps my dreams of becoming a public speaker are still more realistic than my yearning to be an international sportsman!

Sadly, I meet too many people whose souls are parched waiting to hear words that would bring them life. It’s only words, but everyone needs to hear words like, “I believe in you” and you have great potential within” spoken about them.  Perhaps the saddest of all are those who never hear the words, “I am proud of you.” If you have ever watched the life story of Johnny Cash played outstandingly by Joaquin Phoenix in Walk The Line, you can painfully observe how those biting words spoken to him by his father when he was just a young boy, haunted and scarred him for ever. His life was marked by the pain of longing just to hear his father say, you’ve done well son.”

One of the wisest men who ever lived said, Kind words heal and help; cutting words wound and maim.”  How true is that? People all around us are invisibly limping, disfigured within from words spoken over them. Every day as leaders, spouses, parents and friends we are presented with opportunities to feed, nurture and heal the lives of those around us by speaking words of recognition, hope and possibility. We need to speak words of affirmation over those we love, lead and live with.

Capable BoyI don’t quite remember who F M Henshall was, but when he had the chance to speak words into the life of a chatty, mischievous 15 yr old, I am glad he chose to use words that inspired and acknowledged maybe the glimmer, however faint it was at that time, within me and say; Peter is “A capable person who should well at whatever he chooses.”

It’s only words, and words are all we have, but the right words are enough. Who in your life needs to hear you say, “I am proud of you?” Say those words today, while you can.

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Posted on by Peter Billingham in Blog Posts, Leadership, Legacy

About Peter Billingham

Leader, Learner, Speechwriter, Storyteller, Author. a.k.a. 'The Artful Speaker' Enjoy working on social action projects, Toastmasters, films & adventure travel.

5 Responses to It’s Only Words – Affirmation

  1. Laura Billingham

    I’m proud of you Dad xx

    • Sue Marshall

      I’m proud of you too!!

      Really interesting blog too…

      • Peter

        I am really proud of you too, you have so much courage and faith … really proud of you!

  2. Kathy Seid

    This is so moving … heartfelt thank yous for the reminder!

    • Peter Billingham

      Thanks Kathy – Words have power – “Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts.” ― Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

      Thanks for taking time to comment.

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