When I was a kid we used to have this song we'd sing;
"Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but words will never hurt me."
A nice sentiment but I have news for you. It's not true.
I think of myself as a fairly confident and grounded person. I like me. Even when I do or say something stupid I recognize this as the exception rather than the rule. Words, however, have the power to take me from confident and happy to suspicious and miserable.
Maybe when someone says something mean to you once, it's easy to shake it off. Twice, you can still shrug it away but the third, fourth, fifth and tenth time it really starts to stick.
One minute you're puttering along and you're perfectly fine and then those words... those silly words that aren't supposed to be able to hurt you come popping up.
"no... I'm not..."
But enough people have said or insinuated those words that you're not so sure.
"... I... don't think I am..."
But enough people have repeated that you are... can so many people be wrong?
"I'm not... am I?"
So many people seem to think so.
How do you shake these things off?
I've gotten to the point now where I'm so raw and exposed from all the cruel, hurtful words people fling at me, and the cruel, hurtful ways in which they behave, that I no longer have the ability to 'shake it off'.
Some people would call me weak. Some people would say: "OH TOUGHEN UP! IT CAN ONLY HURT YOU IF YOU LET IT!"
DON'T YOU GET IT?
Saying that doesn't make it better. It continues the cycle of abuse. So basically when you say -that- you're saying I'm weak, because it DOES hurt. Stop saying that. It doesn't help. It makes the hurt deeper and makes the hurting want to hide their hurt so you don't see.
Hidden hurt has more power to leave lasting scars. When we take something into us and hide it, it eats away from the inside. We should be allowed to speak our hurts out loud, so we can get it out of us.
I think the answer to hurtful words isn't; "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me."
I think the answer to hurtful words is; "Be the change you want to see in the world."
Hurt begets hurt.
Nastiness begets nastiness.
Anger begets anger.
Kindness rules them all.
When people are unnecessarily rude or cruel to us, I think the best response is to be kind to them in response. When the encounter is over you will STILL be hurt... but at least you will know you showed them another way. A better way. And maybe, just maybe, you planted a seed of goodness in them.
I think people who go around deliberately belittling and hurting others are very damaged people. Maybe they have hurt of their own and it got bottled up so tightly that it ate them from the inside until they became the hurt. A walking ball of hurt that goes around trying to hurt more and more. Like the borg of feelings.
But we will not be assimilated into this nasty little cycle.
Or at least... I won't.
Show them the kindness and courtesy they seem to have forgotten.
You're strong Nicky... you've got this.