it takes 1000 attaboys to make up for one moment of meanness
Words have power – the power to uplift, or the power to destroy… today I am talking about those mean, hurtful words that can take us down, sometimes in terrible ways. I’ve recently had a number of clients who were dealing with words that just couldn’t be forgotten or overlooked. Their pain inspired me to issue this reminder.
While it might be OK for children to call each other stupid, adults should know better. I am a hot-headed French woman with a father who wasn’t mindful of his hurtful words… I know what it’s like to be on the receiving end of a comment like “you look like a peasant, don’t you have anything better to wear than that ugly skirt.” And because I grew up with insults and put downs, I was not so careful about what I said to the people I cared about. … until I had a disabled child who already had a whole lot of self-confidence issues… I didn’t need to add to them… thanks to Patrick, I had to learn to be angry without throwing “digs”, put downs that would just make him feel worse… and behave even more badly.
Pat thrived when he was praised, folded when he was criticized… A truth that applies to everyone of us…. Hurtful words stick… recently one of my clients called, very upset that she couldn’t reconcile with her ex. She said she could have forgiven his betrayal with another woman, but she couldn’t forgive the way he verbally attacked her when she caught him… he blamed her for needing another woman, told her she was terrible in bed, that she was too fat, boring, she didn’t turn him on anymore… but when she moved on with her life, and he heard that she was dating again, he came running, begging for her to take him back, saying all the right things, apologizing profusely for what he had said a few months earlier. In a moment of weakness, she actually considered it… but then she talked to me and I reminded her that no one has the right to abuse another with hurtful words, her ex was a control freak, he would turn on her as soon as he had her where he wanted her…. she should trust her instincts to let him go and not look back.
It can be very tempting in the heat of the moment to hit below the belt, to say something that is just plain mean because you’re mad or really frustrated. One late summer night, we were disturbed by a huge battle that had erupted at my next door neighbour’s. Unusual. Their marriage was obviously on the line, we couldn’t help but hear what they were saying… what interested me though was that although the battle raged for over an hour, not once did either of them insult the other in any way… they focused on the issue. Although it took them some months to recover their balance, a reconciliation was possible, I am sure, because they chose not to make a bad situation worse by hurting the other in the heat of the battle.
Using words that hurt is a form of cruelty – and often a way in which folks try to gain control over another. Undermining another’s self-confidence is a bully tactic, abusive.
We can’t take our words back, once they’re out there, they are remembered… the universe responds to them… So give yourself a fighting chance to recover from whatever situation or person has upset you…. Fight Fair… Watch what you say… words have power, use them wisely and lovingly, to empower and uplift.