We all know the childhood chant “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names can never hurt me.”. Oh, how I wish that were true. There has been many a moment I would have taken a blow to the gut rather than an unkind or untrue phrase spoken. Physical bruises heal. Emotional ones, when it comes to healing, those suckers move at a turtles pace. I am 46 years old and there are still some words I cannot erase from my mind.
We’ve all heard them, I am sorry to say. We’ve been called a liar, useless, fat, ugly…you name it, at some point in our lives, someone has uttered these words to us, and sadly, we have uttered them to ourselves. What I find the most heartbreaking is when we let someone else’s words begin to define us. I admit, I have fallen victim to this, in the past and even in the present. I was beginning to listen to the shouts of self doubt that were unfortunately being boosted up by the words of others. Then one night, after a shit show of a day, I sat down in bed and looked over at a journal I had been given years ago. It’s Tiffany blue and embossed in gold were the words “be happy”. I reached over, cracked it open and began to write. I wrote how I feeling, what I was thinking. After, I felt better. My feelings were still hurt, I was still confused about what to do, but I felt better. The next night before bed, I wrote again. I have continued to do so each night. That’s the wonderful thing about writing in a journal, you get the questions out of your head and sooner or later, answers appear.
When I was younger, I heard my mother say something to a friend of hers that was going through a difficult separation “we hate in others what we hate in ourselves.”. I found myself writing that phrase in my journal. I also remember as a child being told “when you point a finger, there are three pointing back at you.”. While writing last night, I finally got it. I stepped outside of myself and took a good, hard look at the lives of those around me who haven’t been the nicest as of late. They are all going through something. Be it trouble at work, trouble with family, battling some inner demon, even battling addiction. I came to realize that when they were pointing the finger at me, they were also pointing it at themselves. To be clear, there is no excuse for hurtful words or actions. What I am saying is trying to understand where they are coming from may bring you some peace. I am well aware that I am not a saint. I have had my moments that I took the low road and went for the jugular. Over the years I have made a commitment to myself not to behave that way. I do my best to listen and understand. I will take whatever is coming to me, if I deserve it.
We all get angry. We all get down on ourselves. We all get frustrated with life, family, work, you name it. I think we should all be allowed to feel whatever we are feeling. I do not believe we should be allowed to be mean about it. There is no reason for that, there is no honor to yourself or the other person. Saying hurtful things for the sake of argument is childish. Plain and simple. I have come to feel sorry for those who have been hurtful for hurtful’s sake. In the wee small hours of the morning, for the rest of their lives, they will have to live with the fact that they purposefully hurt someone they love. That is something I wouldn’t wish upon anyone.
There is always a chance for kindness. As hard as it may be to do, we can stop saying something hurtful before we start. We can take a breath. When you feel like lashing out, take a moment to remember what you would do if you heard another person speaking this way. If you wouldn’t allow another person to speak in a hurtful way in your presence, maybe you shouldn’t either.