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People Say The Darndest Things

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.

If you were ever in a situation where you were repeating that mantra to yourself…then you had obviously been hurt by what someone said about you.  It was probably when you were younger, although I know I’ve gone back to the vault and pulled that classic out a time or two even as a grown-up.  It seems these days that adults have the capacity to talk more trash than the best 4th grade bully I ever knew.

The truth of the matter is that being called a name or having someone say something hateful or lousy to you or about you hurts, at any age.  It just does.  But here’s the thing…it hurts us  because we allow it to hurt us.  In other words, it doesn’t have to.

There is a responsibility that all of us have in this life to be kind to each other.  The unfortunate part is that it’s a responsibility not everyone takes too seriously.  People can be cruel.  People can be mean.  People can be rude.  People can be uncaring.  People can be real butt heads.  People can be whatever they choose to be.  And the same goes for you and I.

We often associate our self-worth with something that someone else says.  If we make that conscious choice, then yes, it is going to hurt.  And I would say in some instances even more than a stick or a rock ever could.

But if you or I can shift our level of thinking from the trivial, and realize that our worth and our core and what we truly are transcends these silly and misguided comments, we can remove the sting.  And we can be confident in ourselves, and continue to operate as though

I’ve heard it said and seen it written that words are simply words.  But I think we should be wary of the power they can wield.  It’s true in one sense, the word itself cannot physically harm you.  But the meaning of the word, the context in which the word is used, the inflection, interpretation, and the audience that hears it can all be variables that give the word life.  And that life can sometimes cause harm, if we aren’t ready to deal with it.

I wish there were a magical way to guard ourselves against the feelings that we experience when someone blurts out something mean or inappropriate.  There really isn’t.  In fact, sometimes the degree to which the words hurt is in direct proportion to the element of surprise.  In that sense, you can’t really prepare for it.  There is nothing preventing anyone from being a jerk at any given moment.

So what can you do?

As best I can tell, and this has worked pretty well for me over the years, you first need to understand who you are.  You need to get know yourself.  Realize that what you are has nothing to do with what someone says.  Love yourself.  Be confident in yourself.  And then live a life that is a shining example.  Be positive.  Don’t say hurtful things about anyone else.  There is, after all a “reap what you sew” principle that operates universally around us.

Yes, there will still be people who choose to say things they shouldn’t.  Sometimes you end up as the lucky recipient of some mindless rant, regardless of how cool you are, or how well you treat others.  I guess you should think of it as a test when it happens.  A challenge to see if you can remain strong.  So…remain strong!

You are exactly what you think you are.  Nothing more or less.  So believe in yourself.  The more confidence that you have, the less any words will hurt you.  The more focused you are on achieving great things, the less a few babbling knuckleheads in the neighborhood will bother you.  The more love you show yourself, the more love others will show you.

Try this stuff out.  See how going within to find your true inner strength, and how discovering the essence of you can overcome anything that someone else can say.

And hey, if it doesn’t work, you can always look the person in the eye and boldly state, I’m rubber, you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off of me and sticks to you!

But seriously, try the inner strength thing first…

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3 Responses to “People Say The Darndest Things”

  1. This article has really made me think… I believe all you have said is true. But for many… it’s easier said than done. Especially for kids.

    We may logically understand that we need to turn off unkind comments but sometimes the emotional part of us does not catch up with the logical side.

    And…If our past and present methods of fostering self-worth in kids really worked… you wouldn’t have to remind adults how to have inner-strength.

    I had a discussion with a teacher a few weeks ago and she mentioned that her students have less self worth today than kids she taught 10 years ago. What’s happened?

    I see unkindness and the use of sarcasm on the rise. It’s so prevalent on t.v. that it goes unnoticed. I hear people use sarcasm all the time… under the cloak of humor… followed by “Just Kidding.”

    The word Sarcasm comes from the Greek “sarkasmos” which means to tear flesh. Thus, Sarcasm: An utterance designed to cut or give pain.

    What can we do to curb unkindness? How do we successfully foster self-worth in kids so it translates into adult inner strength?

    I don’t know what the answer is… but it certainly merits further discussion.

    Thanks Mike for this post… This is a subject really worth pondering.

  2. avatar Mike Shippey says:

    Thanks so much for the thoughtful comments.

    I could not agree with you more on all that you have said here.
    I’m extremely passionate when it comes to kids, and while it makes me sad to see such a lack of self confidence in so many, it also inspires me to teach them as much as I possibly can about how wonderful and valuable they are.

    I truly enjoy meaningful discussion, and I agree that we should have more dialogue in our culture along these lines.

    We can make a difference!
    MS

  3. Any time I bump up against something I can’t handle, I turn to the “Code of Honor” I have on my wall. Somewhere I am not keeping that code.

    #5 of that code is “Never need praise, approval or sympathy.”

    This is works for me.

    If we were to teach kids just that, they would be better off.

    Sheila

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