“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Can I just say how completely and utterly untrue that phrase is?
I mean, sure, sticks and stones can physically hurt you, but words? Those can do as much psychological damage as stones can do physical damage.
I find it strange how hurtful words can be. They’re just sentences said by one human being to another.
But they do hurt. And sometimes they hurt a lot.
We’ve all been called names. Everyone has been teased, either in jest or cruelty. It’s nothing new, nothing that should have lasting effects.
But they do.
If you get called a name so many times, your psyche starts to believe it’s true. At least, that’s how mine works. I start to identify with that name and it becomes me.
If people see me that way, then why not just become that word? Why not make it part of who I am?
I’ve been called names. Plenty of names. Some names have stuck with me through the years and I can’t seem to shake them. They seem to haunt my dreams, my daily life, and follow me around, mocking and taunting:
Bitch. Selfish. Bad friend. Spoiled. Untrustworthy. Liar. Brat. Two-faced. Jerk. Fake.
Each one is like a little monster that sits upon my shoulder, screaming the word my ear, every single day of my life. I can’t shake them away.
We all have words we identify with. As humans, we seem to remember the bad things about ourselves before we remember the good. We take the bad things others say to us and keep them close to our heart, while the good things are brushed aside and forgotten about.
Words can be both uplifting and downgrading. Good and bad words can be said about everyone, but instead of focusing on the bad, focus on the good.
I’m trying lately. I don’t want to only focus on the bad names and words that have been said to me. It’s not something I want to identify with anymore. Instead, I’d like to dwell on the good, what little good I do get:
Witty. Trustworthy. Good listener. Honest. Funny. Helpful. Kind. Loyal. Sweet. Brave.
Those are the kinds of words I want to become. Those are the ones I want to be able to identify with.
Someone recently told me, “I think that we’re so close to ourselves that we can’t see outside of that box that is ourselves. We can’t see ourselves clearly. And I’m not saying that others can exactly, but they see flashes of us that we can’t exactly see.”
I’d rather see myself the way others see me, or at least the good things they see. I want to be able to shake off the bad-word monsters that have made a home on my shoulder after all these years. I want to claim those good qualities that others are able to find inside of me, the ones I’m unable to find.
And someday, maybe someday, those bad words won’t hurt as much as sticks and stones. Instead, the good words will fight them off from their new perch on my shoulder and continually tell me,
“You’re good enough. Those words cannot hurt you anymore. We’re here to protect you from them.”