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We are often left crying, shivering or feeling hurt after a verbal bout laden with insults. We often don’t understand this involuntary reaction of our body to a few words. How is it that words can hold so much power over us? This question was answered in a recent study published in the journal, Frontiers in Communication, which aimed at finding the relation between emotions and language.
The study found out that verbal insults are like ‘mini-slaps in the face’. The research was done with the help of electroencephalography (EEG) and skin conductance (SC) recordings to compare the short-term impact of verbal insults. EEG is a way to record the activity in the brain while SC or electrodermal response calculates the nervous system arousal in response to a stimulus. During the course of the study it was seen that verbal insults such as being called an “idiot” were perceived as ‘smack to the face’ because of the strong P2 amplitude (a waveform component of the event-related potential (ERP) measured at the human scalp).
The findings also suggested that if the same insult was thrown at a person, repeatedly, through varied mediums such as a person they know, a stranger or an electronic voice, and all triggered the same intense reactions.
If you are someone who easily says harsh words for another being, it is time you re-evaluate. After speaking to Dr. Kamna Chhiber, Psychologist at Fortis Healthcare, we found out some ways with which you can control yourself before you say something hurtful.
Become aware of what you are disliking in the situation and discuss that instead of denigrating the person. Sometimes, just taking a breather and closing your eyes will give you control over your words and anger.
Determine if this emerges from an impulse on your part. Make a concerted effort to hear out more fully what a person wants to share by reminding yourself to avoid jumping to conclusions. Try to solve matters by having mature conversations.
If this has become a habitual pattern over years, then make a proactive effort to determine within yourself that you would refrain from insulting someone. Work towards it by identifying the varying ways in which you may be hurling insults at those around you and systematically work to eliminate them.
In all, it is better to live in harmony, as a community, and not hurt each other just because we have the power to.