Last year I wrote a blog called Sticks and Stones. It was about the power of our words. Yesterday, I was reminded of this problem again. I think we need to change the saying to: Sticks and stones may break our bones, but words cut to the heart.
Hardly a day goes by that some child is not brought to tears at school over what someone else said. Yesterday was no exception. A young girl was sobbing uncontrollably at lunch. Her friends were trying to calm her down, but nothing they said seemed to work.
I asked her, “What happened?” She pointed out two girls in the lunch line and informed me that they had said mean things to her. I asked her, “Do you believe what they said?” She did not know how to respond, so I said, “Their words only have power over you if you believe them. You are a beautiful, smart, and charming girl. What they say does not matter, does it?”
I think the problem is, we all want to be liked. We find out at a very early age that being liked by everyone is just not going to happen. People will not like you for a thousand reasons…or no reason at all. Sometimes they just don’t like you and there is nothing you can do about it. You have to accept the fact and move on.
The problem is those pesky words. They seem to hang in our minds and hearts and continue to burn our self-image. Sometimes this problem follows us in adulthood. Have you ever innocently said something to someone and had them take your head off? What you said might have been innocent, but it pricked the wound in the heart once again and you were left wondering, “What just happened?”
The lesson here is two-fold.
- Be kind with your words. Your words have the power of life and death, so be careful how you use them.
- Don’t be defined by what other people think of you. Know yourself well enough that the words of other people don’t affect your self-image.
Lou Holtz said, “You are never as good as everyone tells you when you win, and you’re never as bad as they say when you lose.” The same goes for what people say to you and about you on a daily basis. Don’t allow hurtful words to hit their target. If you don’t react negatively, the fiery darts are extinguished.