Sometimes 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.