Skip to Main Content
Two women walking outside

The power of encouragement

“Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” 

Our words matter more than we think

I’m going to date myself when I ask this question, but how many of you have heard the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Often a response to being called a name or insulted, this was meant to show that the person on the receiving end of the insult was not moved or phased by the remarks of the instigator.  

As we all know, that’s not always the case. Our words carry weight — they matter. Our words can build others up or tear them down, speak truth or lies, be a healing salve or a vexing irritant. 

The dictionary defines encouragement as the action of giving someone support, confidence or hope. We can encourage others through our words, actions, and our ability to inspire.

Encouragement has many benefits

  • It can boost a person’s mood, confidence, and esteem; it can feel as invigorating as a power nap, a morning workout, or that first cup of coffee. 
  • It can provide hope and healing to others. Speaking life-giving and life-affirming words to someone may be just what they need. There is an old Proverb that says, “the soothing tongue is a tree of life, but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit.” 
  • Encouraging words impact the brain of the receiver. Dr. Andrew Newberg and Mark R. Waldman wrote a book titled “Words Can Change Your Brain.” They assert that positive words such as “peace” and “love” can alter the expression of genes and strengthen areas in our frontal lobe (the part of the brain that controls cognitive skills and promotes the brain’s cognitive function). They also state that negative words increase the activity of our amygdala (the fear center of the brain), interrupting our brain’s functioning. According to the authors, “angry words send alarm messages through the brain and partially shut down the logic and reasoning centers in the frontal lobes.” That is powerful! 
  • Offering words of encouragement can improve or shift a person’s perspective and how they view themselves or their situation; it's more than a mere compliment, it’s up close and personal and goes beyond what we see and observe externally. I love the Greek word for encourage which is “parakaleo,” which means “one called alongside to help.”  When we encourage our friends, family and co-workers, we are reminding them they are not alone — that they are seen, heard, valued and loved.  
  • Encouragement can inspire others. As a person’s attitude and perspective changes, so does their behavior. That person may feel emboldened to take on that difficult task or challenge, or their steps may just fall a little lighter as they walk through the day. 

Let’s be more intentional with our words today. I’ll leave you with another one of my favorite Proverbs: “Kind words are like honey, sweet to the soul and healthy for the body.” 

Profile picture for user Dee Copeland
Contributing Author
Dee Copeland, LCPC has more than 15 years of experience working in the field of mental health therapy and counseling and has her master’s degree in education with a focus in community counseling. Dee ...

Subscribe to Get Well Delmarva — your source for expert health and wellness information.

elf on a shelf image