Sticks & Stones…words will never…

“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Remember reciting this clever response to a classmate or family member who said something offensive, hurtful, or upsetting to you; usually about your character or person.  We were taught this would protect us. The saying encourages one to not mind what someone else says, it suggests that a word does not hurt.  The intention of the meaning is admirable and understandable. It’s a reminder to not internalize what every person has to say about you.  The mantra offers a way to retain power and not unintentionally give it to someone else.  However, what happens when after saying it you are still bothered, hurt, upset?

If sticks and stone can break your bones, but words will never hurt you; how can we still feel hurt, pain, discomfort from what someone has said to you.  

The truth is words can hurt.  

Words can leave emotional scars.  Words matter, they are selected carefully from the soul who chooses to use them.  Words are a common and essential source of our communication. Jesus taught through a parable the power of words, “…but what comes out of the mouth, this defiles a man [gr. human being].”

Think how you feel when given a compliment, an accolade, an appreciation. These words evoke emotion.  Same is true when one receives an insult, is teased harassed, or berated. 

When a person is suffering and hears, “ Get over it”, or “You’re not over it yet?” These words are painful. The statements drive nails of judgement and dismissal through a person’s fragile state.  The  person’s experience is disregarded. There are times someone means well for the person, as they want the person to stop hurting.  However, this phrase stabs the other’s heart.

When you do not know what to say, let them know, “ I see you are still hurting, I don’t know what to say. How can I be here for you? Or what would you like to talk about, I’m listening.” If the the conversation the person engages in leads to being uncomfortable, inform the person, “ Thank you for sharing, I am at a loss for words and think a more prepared person can help you further.  Can I help in looking for the counselor to talk with you?” Offer to go with the person to at least the first appointment (where you can be there before and after the appointment).  

If you are the person who hears, “Get over it.” Or “Why aren’t you over it yet?” Remind yourself the person does not understand your pain or situation.  Ask yourself if it is useful to help the particular person understand your experience.  If you determine it will not be useful, you have the power to not enter this conversation with that individual.  There are professional counselors willing to listen and walk along side you. 

Speak Your Mind


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Gaithersburg, MD 20877
(301) 281-6550

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