2006-09-29 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

By Dr. Nancy Gahles

DR. nancy gahles
DR. nancy gahles School has begun and the apprehensions have appeared. The usual suspects are fear of new situations, meeting new people and the fear of failure. The major players in the drama are the students, their peers and the teachers. We are all predisposed to the thoughts in our heads. We ruminate on past experience and anticipate the same will unfold this year. The thoughts that plague us are generally the limiting, fearful ones. These are the thoughts that keep us awake at night, that prevent us from eating correctly, that limit us from venturing into new experiences, that disrupt our loving relationships and that prevent us from living in joy.

These fearful thoughts are usually based on an actual experience of shame, fright or humiliation. All too often, the experiences are ones where words were spoken that were so hurtful that they caused irreparable harm.

I have seen and heard of spirits crushed by the admonitions of teachers to a child in front of his classmates. Adults have told me of paths in their lives they would never traverse because a teacher told them they were inept in some way or another. Children express their anguish through physical symptoms of chronic illness and learning disturbances among other behaviors that belie the discomfort they feel.

Words have the power to heal and they have the power to destroy. As parents, we need to monitor the way in which we speak to our children as well as the words we choose to convey our message. We, too, are our children's teachers. We need to role model a life for them that they can emulate.

The seeds of disease are planted in a person's mind when he is treated with disrespect, when he is spoken to unkindly, when he is verbally abused through humiliation, taunting and criticism. Children may take this to heart and believe it to be true. Self deprecation and a sense of failure can ensue. Anger turned inward is a characteristic of depression. There have also been many studies on the relationship between expressing anger and breast cancer. In a study by S. Greer and T. Morris, it was found that women who were diagnosed with breast cancer differed from women with benign breast disease in how they expressed anger. They mostly suppressed it. (Trichopoulos, Li & Hunter, What Causes Cancer?: American Cancer Society).

The famous pediatric cancer surgeon, Bernie Siegal,M.D., author of Love, Medicine and Miracles intimated that he could cut out the cancer but he couldn't cut out the hurtful words from the mind of his patients. He showed a writing from one of his patients that went like this: word SWORDSword SWORDSwordWORDS wordSWORDS.

Indeed, words are like swords and they can wound deeply.

There is (he )that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.


Steven K. Scott recently wrote a book called, THE RICHEST MAN WHO EVER LIVED, King Solomon's Secrets to Success, Wealth and Happiness. In his chapter on communication he quotes many of Solomon's words from Proverbs to illustrate his point that your communication can wound others or heal them. He discusses a recent PBS television appearance where he asked the audience," How many of you can remember a specific criticism you received from your parents when you were a child that deeply hurt you?" Nearly every hand went up, he said. Heaviness in the heart of man makes it stoop: but a good word makes it glad. - Proverbs 12:25.

When we become cranky and irritable as the year progresses and we use the much bandied about word "stress", let us be conscious that thoughtless, disparaging communication is a major source of stress.

My admonition is to start the school year and the New Year this weekend with thoughts of peace and harmony. Let us celebrate the uniqueness of others, not mock it. Let us teach with words of encouragement. Let us act with gentleness at the apparent mistakes of others. Let us offer help and hope in the form of kind acts and words spoken with inspiration and motivation. "You catch more bees with honey than you do with vinegar" is an adage that applies here. Everyone and everything grows, flourishes and thrives with Love. It is the only constant in the Universe. The words I spoke at a recent wedding that I officiated at capture the truth, "Only Love is capable of joining living beings by their deepest essence, uniting, completing and fulfilling them."

Words hold the power to help or to heal. Be conscious of what you are going to say, to whom you are going to say it and the rightness of timing. A caveat I remind my children of is: Is it kind? Is it truthful? And is it necessary? Think before you speak. How would you feel if you were on the receiving end of the comment you are about to make? Steven Scott makes this point as well when he says, " Sometimes parents excuse their own harsh words by claiming they were 'just telling the truth', and if the truth hurts, so be it! According to Solomon, there are a thousand wrong ways to criticize and only one right way. The wrong ways inflict deep wounds; the right way usually leaves no wound at all."

Creating health is more than eating the right foods and not smoking. Creating health starts with creating an environment that is conducive to right thinking and right action. From there flows creative relationship, uniqueness of ideas and the expressions that benefit society as a whole. This is health.

This is harmony. Healing starts with one spark and ignites each other until we are all aglow.

As we move into a new semester, a new grade level, a new cycle, a New Year, let us all be mindful to be gracious and speak words of kindness.

A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver.-Proverbs 25:11

I promise you, Love is it's own reward.

May The Blessings Be!

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