Growing up, everywhere I went I heard the saying "actions speak louder than words." In fact, I recently read someone's comment on a Facebook post in which they argued this sentiment. I appreciate the intent behind it, and I think there's some truth to it. I think that words can be seen as empty if they don't reflect what our actions are. For example, if I tell someone I love them and then I lie to them, my action is not demonstrating that I love them. My words seem empty. However, I think it's a bit more complicated than simply saying "actions speak louder than words."
I think the issue comes down to the fact that human beings are imperfect and selfish.
We lie, cheat, are prideful, envious, and don't always treat each other well. Our actions are not always going to reflect our words, even if we have every intention of being loving and nurturing toward someone through our words. If I tell someone I love them and I lie to them, it doesn't mean I wasn't entirely truthful when I said that I loved them. Would I demonstrate love through my actions if I lied? Generally, I don't think so. However, I think context matters. Intention matters. I don't condone lying at all, but there could be a million reasons why that lie was told. I think we should also acknowledge that sometimes an action is sharing powerful words with someone that can affect them.
Sometimes our actions are centered around words.
I think former President Barack Obama would agree with me. I think words still have the power to affect us to the very core of our being. Words have the power to unite people. Words are how we share knowledge. Words allow us to share ideas. Words give us beloved stories like "Harry Potter" that teach us life lessons. Words affect the way we feel, even if we forget eventually what those words might be (thanks, Maya Angelou). Sometimes, words do stay with us. Words can break us down or build us up. Words are how we express our beliefs and values and the very essence of who we are. Sharing words are how we are vulnerable and build connections. Hearing someone tell you how great you are or an anecdote about a positive impact you've had can change your entire day.
I think what we should also acknowledge is that we have power over how much we let words affect us. If I trust you or know you have my best interests at heart, your words are going to affect me quite a bit more than words from someone I don't trust as much.
I can remember nights in which I've laid in bed and revisited everything I said to someone that day.
I come up with things that I should have said instead - a better response to a point in a discussion I was having, better words to express an intention I had, something I wish I could have said but didn't feel like I could, etc. The reason it matters so much to me is that I care for people through my words. I care how my words affect people, and I would never want someone to feel hurt by my words. At the same time, I also value honesty in my words. Let's consider how our words affect people as well as our actions.