Thursday, August 19, 2010

They're Only Words. . .

"Sticks and stone can break my bones, but words can never hurt me."
Yep, I said those when I was little.
Yep, I lied.

"Will you marry me?"
"You're ugly."
"You look gorgeous!"
"I hate you."

The impact of words can be life altering.
They can impact self-esteem, kill enthusiasm or increase motivation, make someone feel great or depressed.
I have seen young adults' personalities change drastically after receiving praise or criticism.
I catch myself telling the younger generations: "What they think doesn't matter, don't pay them any attention!", but I cringe as I say it because I know that it does matter.
When I have called kids out on what they are saying, I get a "I was just joking!" I cringe. . .
A wise person once told me that every joke has a small piece of truth in it somewhere.

Back in high school, I will always remember being added to the bottom of another student's Senior list as "Most Annoying". She sat in front of me and pointed it out to the person sitting next to her in a way that made it pretty easy to see her paper. That in itself didn't bother me much as I wasn't friends with her.
The words that did impact me?
The person she shared it with (who I thought was a good friend), replying "Yeah, I know".
I did the "mature" thing and ignored it - I doubt that they know I saw/overheard.
Those words affected me inside to such a degree that I still think of it, 18 years later, and second guess a lot of what I do today to make sure that I'm not being annoying.

There are a few words that I do not allow in our home.
"I'm going to kill you" and "You're fat" are two that come to mind quickly.
I don't care what the situation is. . .I'm not up for negotiation on it.
Is that annoying? Don't care.

Some people may be able to forget things easily, some can't.
I forgive (in most cases pretty quickly), but it is very hard for me to forget and it is even harder for me to not be emotionally impacted by words, even years later. Many times, the way I interact with people changes permanently based on their words.

I try to pick my words wisely and even ask myself "Will what I say have impact in 10 years?".
You may be surprised how many times I answer "maybe".
Sometimes when I am talking to young adults, I answer "hopefully".

As I have gotten older, my "skin" has gotten thicker. . .
That doesn't mean that the words do not have less of an impact, it just means it is harder for people to see the results.
So if you happen to catch me with watery eyes - it could be a piece of dust in my eyeball or I may be reliving a memory inside from yesterday, last year or even 18 years ago.

Is that healthy?
Sometimes yes, Sometimes no.
This is me, this is my journey. . .I can't change it.

Namaste.

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