The Things People Say

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file000808611721Sometimes people say the meanest things. It’s like they don’t hear how they sound. Or maybe they do and don’t care.

I’ve been talking about this a lot with my kids lately. Teaching them that words are powerful. With their words, they have the ability to build up or destroy.

The little boy next door passed a note over the wall to my youngest the other day. In crude handwriting and awful spelling, the boy called my youngest a…well, an offensive term that starts with F and rhymes with duck. The word came out of nowhere. One minute they’re talking and playing, and the next, boom. His feelings were hurt, of course. Now whenever he interacts with that boy, it’s like he’s on heightened awareness, waiting for the kid to hurt his feelings again.

Now, I’m sure that boy had either been called that name, or had heard someone get called that, and was just trying the word out for himself. That’s how kids are, right? But man, that makes me sad.

I told my youngest that I love him, that I think he’s great, to let it go, that he didn’t have to play with that boy if he didn’t want to, but I know how words like that stick with you.

All of us do.

Hurtful words have a way of echoing in our minds long after they’ve been said. They’re like magnets, attracted and clinging to our insecurities, difficult to shake off.

When I was young, one of my friend’s mothers made a comment to my mom. “It’s nice to see Amy’s starting to get pretty.”

Ouch. All these years later, that one still echoes around up there.

The things people say affect us.

The things we say affect others.

Words can build up. Words can tear down. If only we were more conscious of how we use them, of when we use them, and of how they affect the hearer. Think of how we could change the world.

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7 thoughts on “The Things People Say

    Dylan Hearn said:
    January 28, 2014 at 3:59 am

    This is so true. The worst comments, those that have the longest impact, often come from those you most trust. I remember an art teacher telling me I had little talent. I stopped trying after that. Now, I know I would never have made a career from art, but I lost all interest for a long time. All I can say is thank goodness for music and writing.

      Amy K. Nichols said:
      January 29, 2014 at 11:26 am

      Isn’t that the truth? The ones we trust most. Yes.

      What a horrible teacher to say that to you!! Ugh. I’m glad you haven’t abandoned your creative side, though. Hooray for music and writing! (And art. Which I hope you’ll give another shot.)

    dex said:
    January 29, 2014 at 8:15 am

    I love this. So much, in fact, that I reblogged it on my non-fiction blog. 🙂

      Amy K. Nichols said:
      January 29, 2014 at 11:17 am

      Thanks, Dex! 🙂

        dex said:
        January 29, 2014 at 11:35 am

        You’re welcome! Thanks for sharing. 🙂

    dragonflychat said:
    January 29, 2014 at 10:02 am

    Yes, words can haunt us. I still remember when I was a kid my then step-brother started taunting me at recess with “I’d rather be dead than red on the head!” I of course, was a redhead. It really hurt my self-esteem, even all these years later. My standard come back, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never harm me,” really was just empty optimism.

      Amy K. Nichols said:
      January 29, 2014 at 11:24 am

      Empty optimism. That’s it exactly. Well said. I’m sorry you were teased for being a redhead. One of my childhood friends was also teased for being ginger. Her hair was (is) beautiful, and I always envied her for it. I think the only way of really putting those hurtful words to rest is to take that thing we were singled out for and transform it into a strength. No easy or sure way of doing that, but I’m sure it starts with self-acceptance. Easier said than done, right? Regardless, thank you for your comment. And just so you know, I’m a fan of gingers!

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