Forever young.

"Speak now or forever hold your peace in pieces."

What You Say Matters

I think we tend to forget that what we — you, me and all of us — say can change someone. Even if the person was a stranger.

The past few months, I have been following someone on Twitter who, every day without fail, I would check on just to see what she wrote. Some would find this creepy, or even call me a stalker, but I wouldn’t call myself that. I don’t enter her profile every day to see what she’s doing, or know what are the events in her life. I do it because every single thing she says emits a positive aura. She has the positive vibe that is so contagious, that just reading her tweets makes you feel liberated, like you can achieve anything. She is by far one of the most hardworking and diligent people I know (or observed), yet the pressure of her work never ever gets to her. Oh, and not to mention that through it all, she shines through like a goddess.

See, the thing is, I don’t know her well. We’ve talked a couple of times, and I’ve met her only twice or so, but she has no idea how her existence has changed the way I think or do things. I can feel myself being more driven and positive. She’s just there doing what she does, and I’m in the back line, admiring her attitude.

That’s when it hit me.

What we say actually matters.

We might not know it, but every single thing that we say, can actually affect someone — one way or another, positive or negative, close or far. Which is why it is always important to watch what you say, though this is advice I am trying hard myself to heed. We have read many cases whereby one snide remark can drive someone to suicide, yet a simple word of positivity can make them change that decision.

A great testament to this would be the recently viral case of Jonny Benjamin.

In 2007 , Jonny was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, which was a combination of schizophrenia and depression. In 2008, he almost jumped to his death at Waterloo Bridge when a stranger came to him. His simple words “You can get better” and an invite for coffee turned Jonny’s life around. Unfortunately, when he climbed off the bridge police had arrived and that was the last that he had seen the man.

2 weeks ago, Jonny set on a quest to look for the man that saved his life. He named the campaign #FindMike and it became viral within a few days. This was the message that had popped up on my Twitter timeline at that time.


Thanks to the help of those who spread the word, Jonny finally got to meet with the man that saved him — 31 year old Neil Laybourn.

20140203-230318.jpgPicture and story courtesy of The Guardian. Read the full story here:

Now, Jonny is a mental health and equal rights campaigner, whose work circles around topics like suicide awareness and dealing with mental illnesses. You can watch his YouTube videos here.

However, this is just one of the many cases whereby mere words could turn a life around. Jonny’s story is one with a touching and happy ending. There have been many instances of bullying, be it physical or cyber, whereby verbal abuse towards a person is so bad that it drives someone to take their lives. PureSight is a website on online child safety that has some of the tragic suicide cases that has happened.

We are in a time where many prioritize freedom of rights — especially the right to speak, or as we commonly call it, ‘freedom of speech’. While I have always agreed with the notion that people should be allowed to voice out their opinions, I still think that people should have the moral conviction to watch what they say. I know the statement is contradicting itself, since I support “freedom” of speech, but to me, even freedom has its limits. So when do you know you have reached the limit of freedom? When what you say or do starts to hurt someone else.

This is something that I always, or at least try to, do: Before I say something, I imagine how it would feel like to have the same thing being said to me. Being only human, I too have my fair share of bad thoughts, but this habit has kept me grounded and prevented a lot of unnecessary tiffing between loved ones, close friends and also strangers. Some things are better off unsaid. Before you choose to act upon any negativity, just remember to “love the love more than you hate the hate”.

Everything that we do or say has a string of consequences that follow, and even if it does not affect you, it might change the life of someone else. The older I grow, the more I realize the importance of keeping a smile on your face and love in your heart. You could be someone’s inspiration, or you could be their depression. Which one would you choose?

Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless. ~ Mother Teresa

Have a good day ahead, everyone.


4 comments on “What You Say Matters

  1. Anonymous
    February 4, 2014

    Truly brilliant Shafiqah! Many a times, in
    Our haste, we speak of words that we don’t mean, esp in anger. If only we can stop to ponder… Alas! Like you mentioned, we are but human. So let’s try from here forth, to be a lil kinder cos all we need is ❤️…. xxx

  2. luvambuyat
    March 26, 2014

    May I know who she is?

  3. Ally Lim
    May 4, 2014

    Shafiqah you know what?You are an amazing writer! You really are!

  4. Anonymous
    January 11, 2017

    your writings, it’s amazing

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