Speak Gently: Your Words Can Hurt or Heal

Many of us use words carelessly. We blurt out our thoughts without thinking how it impacts the other person. I’m constantly reminded that I should speak gently to others, and also to myself.

How to speak gently

1. Speak gently to yourself

This is tricky to work on, because there is no third-party feedback to help you. When we are mean to others, they can let us know. But we often don’t realise what we are telling ourselves. Our self-talk is often negative. We blame ourselves for the failure of a relationship, we tell ourselves we can’t succeed and so on.

Journalling is a good way to start listening to yourself. Write whatever comes to mind, and after a few months you may notice a pattern. In hindsight, I realised that my old patterns included phrases like “This is too good to last”. This made me sabotage my romantic relationships because I was always expecting things to end. And they eventually did, because expectations tend to be self-fulfilling.

2. Use affirmations

Affirmations are a good way to learn to speak to ourselves gently and effectively. Don’t tell yourself, “I have bad skin and nobody will be attracted to me”. Instead, say to yourself everyday, “I have a great smile and people are drawn to my cheerful attitude”. Either way, you will be right because your thoughts create your reality, so you may as well choose the reality you want.

Writing down affirmations is important because this positive self-talk seldom comes naturally to most us. Unless, of course, you were fortunate enough to have extremely affirming parents and this is your thinking pattern from a young age. Since it is not natural, we need to decide what we want to think, write it down, then read it everyday.

3. Speak gently to others

When you are kind to yourself, it becomes easier to be kind to others. We are quick to criticise others when they make a mistake, but often omit to praise them when they are doing something right. Yet it only takes a minute to tell someone what you appreciate about them.

We often justify criticism of others by saying “it’s for their own good”. But the truth is usually that we are irritated inside and just need to vent our negative thoughts. This type of criticism seldom improves a person, but makes them defensive instead. The only time to offer feedback is when someone asks for it. And even then, be kind.

4. Give a compliment everyday

Our conditioning has trained us to focus on what goes wrong instead of what goes right. We are quick to point out mistakes made by our spouses, children, friends and colleagues.You can balance this negative thinking by deliberately finding someone to compliment everyday.

Remind yourself to say something nice to someone the moment you arrive at work, or before you head home for the day. More importantly, say something nice the moment your arrive home to your family. You can change your immediate environment with your words.

So go for it. Ignore the awkwardness and dump the excuses. Of course you can do it. Remember how you wanted to change the world when you were little? Well, you can start by changing your life today. Speak gently to those who cross your path. Be a force for good.

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7 replies on “Speak Gently: Your Words Can Hurt or Heal”

Hi Liara,

I love this poem, thanks for posting it here. I must confess I’m not sure what made you think of this poem. Was it the word ‘gentle’? Yes, sometimes we must not go gently, but fight for what is important to us. I wonder if it is possible to fight gently… I was glad to be reminded of this by the poem. Thank you again for taking the trouble to post it. It is beautiful.

Your post reminded me of a precious poem by Welsh poet Dylan Thomas:

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.


I so enjoy having you here! As much as I enjoy visiting your beautiful blog. Your comments are so positive – I’m sure they come from a kind person. I can’t believe you need reminding! I’m glad you find this site useful though. Thank you for your uplifting presence here.


I so enjoy visiting! There is so much to learn and absorb but most of all, when I am here on your site, it helps me focus on myself and reminds me to be kind to myself and others.

Thank you for your wisdom :0)

Hi CG,

I love the quote, and will remind myself often before I speak: “does it improve the silence”? I might even ask myself that before writing a post! Thank you for this very wise comment.

A beautiful quote by Sai Baba sums my considerations for speaking (to self and others)up:

Before you speak, ask yourself, is it kind, is it necessary, is it true, does it improve on the silence?

Blessings, Daphne,

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