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Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones but, Words Will Never Hurt Me


 I remember repeating these words when others were bullying me or mocking me during my early school years. I recall looking at their faces with a sneer of defiance as I chanted this statement, then prancing off with my head up and my back straight. Yet, the very first subject that I focus upon with my clients/patients-is about what happens when we or others violate our emotional, physical, or social boundaries.  I list atrocities that easily flow from my mouth, as examples of each one of these boundaries and how violations can occur from the age of a toddler throughout life. My clients feel as if I have been a fly on the wall witnessing their own stories. Words did hurt each of us. Words remain for decades and continue hurting us.

Considering that one of the basic five love languages is “kind words” then we should know how powerful words really are. They can do wondrous things for people and us. They can encourage, lift us, exhort us, guide us, give purpose, clarify meaning, and be a driven force that propels us into greatness with courage. A kind word can provide hope to someone who believes that they are at the end of their rope-and be the difference that keeps them from choosing death. It can be the air beneath the wings that raises us up against a mighty challenge. It can restore relationships. We underestimate how powerful kindness and words are, and we practice kindness too little.

Instead, we follow the culture, and we learn from those who master in using words to belittle, to subdue, to harm, to humiliate, to deceive, to manipulate, and to control others. We watch and practice the craft believing ourselves superior as we see the effect of what we said-and how we said it-as if this shows that we are better than those who were hurt. We then mock their pain and tears as if there is something wrong with them. It is as if, we can swing insults in teasing or malice and expect others to take it like an “adult” then get over it.  We poorly use the word, “adult” as to be a person who can drink, curse, view porn, take a bad joke or jab, instead of someone who can self-manage with discernment, with a higher moral character that is responsible, able to make decisions while utilizing sound judgment of the facts and many other factors that are covert and overt.  An adult manages time, money, and self with prudence as they weigh the pros and cons of options. The term adult however has been adulterated to mean the opposite and it is difficult to differentiate between a child, adolescent, or adult since culture is blurring the lines.

Our own libraries may have explicit reading or viewing material of sexual themes for our youngest of minds as culture pushes agendas that discount teachings and beliefs that are wholesome or pure. One can lie so many times that we believe the lie. Politics and courts are filled with with this construct. Words can twist and can confuse.  With a drop of a word, or a addition of one word, meaning can be totally changed. Within a court of law, justice is thwarted as the attorneys skillfully omit truths and twists words. It is apparent that words are very hurtful and can last a lifetime. Our social media spins mixed messages of acceptance while condemning any who dare to be different (thus not accepting others who differ). We are to march this way or that way and not question the validity, fairness, or truth as others posture for power at our expense and freedom. Our schools have lowered standards of competency to allow all to pass even without the education which only enlarges the gap and increases the number of those who would have striven to achieve but now feels as their efforts are in vain; while poorly equipping our youth for the real world of competition and strategizing.

We will need to scrutinize our world and culture with science, facts, truth, and with a higher moral compass with vigilance to turn humanity around. Somehow we must call upon mankind to rise above all of the deception and demoralization that is penning them down. Somehow we must walk against the new norm that society has carved out for our youth who believe aimlessly in what is taught them. We must risk contempt as we attempt to unveil truth. As social beings, this challenge is most difficult due to our emotional boundaries that include the need to feel accepted. Each time we go against our core belief to fit in with the crowd; it violates our own emotions and thought of ourselves or grapple with the belief of the nonacceptance of others around us. With these attempts to measure up or down to someone's expectations-we lose bits of ourselves.

Some of us fight with words, attitude, and behaviors to push back and to try to stop the pain. Others run or vacillate with decisions and relationships. Some cower with shame and guilt. Others feel abandoned and fear rejection as they accept any treatment of others to just belong. Our defense mechanisms drive our bus while we adults stand on the sidelines believing that we are stuck and helpless. We often treat strangers with more dignity than those who love us or our selves.

As a counselor, I confront the pain that others have been crippled with due to words. It is my goal to assist others to learn how to challenge and to change hard core beliefs due to hurtful words and actions of others. Should you be a victim or if you have partook of being the perpetrator of speaking harmful words, then I invite you to learn how to challenge those words and how to replace them with truth with mercy.

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