Words Can Hurt More Than Sticks and Stones

Do you remember the old childhood rhyme you may have said back to someone who teased you

or who called you names? It went like this: “sticks and stones can break my bones but words

can never hurt me.”

While it may have been a good retort to a child who was verbally harassing you, as

adults, we now know that this is not true. Negative words said to you can not only hurt you at

the moment they are said to you. They can hurt you for the rest of your life.

Therapists’ offices are filled with people who recall nasty words said to them as children. People

suffer from the pain of those words for a lifetime. These words can affect one’s self-esteem to

the point that a person can never overcome the trauma of hearing them.

For instance, a woman who may be model thin, and beautiful may always have inner insecurity that may stem back to being taunted by her young classmates calling her “fat and ugly” as a child.

A successful businessman may never feel proud of his many achievements. He too may suffer from deep insecurities as he hears his father’s voice in the back of his mind telling him that he is never good enough.

We don’t realize the impact that people’s words have on us. Whether they are words that have been said to us in the past, or whether they are words that people have said to us recently. They can have a deleterious effect on our psyche.

That is why we must always think carefully about how we speak to others. Even if we have to tell them something negative, we need to do it in a way that won’t destroy their self-esteem. We need to say it with kindness and in a kind tone.

Children in school need to be taught about the seriousness of teasing, taunting, and bullying their fellow students. There need to be no bullying or teasing tolerance.

Social media is filled with people saying unkind words to perfect strangers. They hide behind their anonymity. The hostility and hateful words that have come out of people’s fingers and onto their keyboards can be devastating, especially if they know the person. Friendships that were decades old have been demolished because of these hostile and hateful words. Instead of agreeing to disagree about a topic- something that mature rational-minded adults usually do, they turn into that childhood bully. They attack. They taunt. They belittle and they tease.

As adults, these toxic words said to us just because we don’t agree with a person’s point of view can have devastating consequences. They can create depression and anxiety.

So we must always be mindful, especially in these tense times, of how we use our words to let a person know that we disagree with them. We can state our point of view but we don’t have to belittle them or make the wrong in the process. They are entitled to their belief system, just as you are entitled to yours. Know that you can never convince them so respect their choice and leave it at that.

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