Speech, defined by Merrian Webster Dictionary, “the communication or expression of thoughts in spoken words, the exchange of spoken words; something that is spoken, usually a public discourse; language, dialect, an individual manner or style of speaking; the power of expressing or communicating thoughts by speaking.”

Words are the foundation of speech – verbal or non-verbal.

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” was used in my childhood to teach that I should not take comments personally and allow a person’s words to hurt me emotionally. I can appreciate the message it is trying to send, but no matter how many times I have been told this or repeated it to myself, words have, in fact, hurt me.

Of course, over time I have grown a thick skin and understand that it is necessary to not always allow someone’s words affect me. Sometimes, depending on the situation, those words cut through me just as a knife would.

Words can cut like a knife and have a resounding impact just as severe physical trauma because the mental a physical state of a person are equally important. The other message that “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me” sends is that physical pain is the only pain worth enduring or taking into consideration.

In reality, though, emotional pain can have the same affects that severe physical pain.

Words are more than just mere letters placed together to make sounds. Words comfort, inspire, transform, discipline, reprimand and create boundaries; the uses of words go far beyond this.

The way in which you use your words matters. Not only in how you speak to yourself, but in how you speak to others. In my fitness challenge group our moderator and fearless leader has created a list of banned words – gasp, banned words. This list was not created to limit our speech, but to encourage to use words that are empowering so that we can shift our mindset to allow ourselves to hold ourselves accountable and teach ourselves that we are capable.

Words are used to write the United States Constitution. In the constitution there is a little gem – the first amendment. It offers every single person in the United States the ability to use their speech as they wish. I could go on a soapbox on the first amendment, but I will be mindful and stick to the topic at hand.

Having the freedom to use whatever words in whatever context or message does not equate to not being held accountable for the result of using those words cause.

If words are used to express hate towards another human being or consistently conveying a negative message the person must be held accountable for the damage caused. But, this sends a greater message – if someone is using words to harm another it stands to reason the words they use for themselves cause equal harm.

The words you use for yourself, your inner monologue, directly affect how you use words towards others.

Words matter, folks.