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Cutting Words


You've probably seen the above photo before.  It tugs hard at your heart, and it's so very true. Words hurt. The negative words children hear form their belief system about themselves and affect them for the rest of their lives.  It's hard to shake those careless things we were told in frustration or anger... especially if they came from the people who we thought loved us. 

Did you ever get angry at your kids and say something in the heat of the moment that you've remembered and regretted ever since? I know I did a time or two.  Sadly, once spoken, words cannot be recalled.  I remember many hurtful things that have been said to me throughout my life. Words that cut deep and left scars.  I wish there was a magic "delete" button that would let you selectively erase memories, clean out all the stuff you never want to think about again.  We can come to terms with our past, accept it for what it was or wasn't, and move on, but we don't forget, not really. 

If you grow up in a home where hurtful words are part of everyday language, it's likely that you'll become an adult who is equally adept at slinging cutting words, especially if you feel hurt, or angry. That's how you saw your role models handle their emotions, and that's what you learned about how to deal with situations in life... lash out at somebody, whoever happens to be nearest... often that somebody is someone you love and care about, someone you have a relationship with.

I had an ex who used to say I had an "acid tongue" when I got angry.  I know that it was true back then.  You hurt me, then by golly I was gonna hurt you back.  I'm not physically strong, but I'm a master of vocabulary, especially when it comes to cutting someone down to size.  When I think about it now, it just makes me sad.  What is accomplished by verbal warfare, by wounding with words? Nothing... except more hurt, more misunderstanding, more resentment.  It grows and feeds on itself.

I'm a lot more careful with my words now days.  I try to think before I fire off at someone.  John grew up without a lot of name-calling, even in fun, and he's been a good influence on reducing that behavior in my life. 

Sometimes we say things to other people only half-jesting, and usually they know it.  I had a friend who was quick with sarcastic humor, usually at my expense.  The "I was just kidding" defense got old after awhile.  He is no longer someone I would consider a really close friend, because I carry too  many scars from his brand of humor.  Humor should not be hurtful. It wasn't very funny to me!  If you care about someone, why would you intentionally say something that might risk hurting or offending them?

Hurtful words happen out in public and in the workplace too, edgy responses that are due to people being tired or under stress.  It makes you take a step back when someone snaps at you, doesn't it?  And if you hear them saying hurtful things about someone else, don't you wonder what they say about you when you're not around? Probably more of the same.  I don't trust people like that, the ones that smile to your face but are quick with cutting words for anyone out of earshot.

Think about it next time before you open your mouth to speak.  Are you tired, stressed, angry, frustrated?  If so, don't vent on some poor innocent person. Take a deep breath, check your attitude, and then say what you have to say, in a calm and respectful manner.  Often it's not what you say, it's how you say it. It's the look, the tone of voice, the cutting edge to your words. 

My farm-raised mother used to have a saying that as kids we found quite humorous. If one of us was acting out she'd say "Tie your little bull outside!"  We realized as we grew older that it was more about bull byproduct - b.s. - than the animal itself. :-)  Yes, don't dump your b.s. on someone else, don't let hurtful words slip out of your mouth, intended or otherwise. 

Words are powerful tools... they can tear down or build up, then can enflame a situation or calm it.  Practice that age-old adage... "Think before you speak."   Use your words to encourage others and to brighten up the world!

10 comments:

  1. A lesson we all had to learn over time. I grew up in a home where kind words were the rule and ... believe it or not, that made me more volnerable to the nastiness that can come out of some people's mouth. I had to learn not to personalize, and to consider the source. Your words are a good reminder for all of us and I appreciate that you took the time to share your wisdom. Hope all is well with you ...

    Andrea @ From the Sol

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    1. Thank You Andrea. It is always hard not to take cruel words to heart. Even worse are those who would smile to your face but deep down harbor dislike and resentments. It's hard to know who you can trust as face value, but we still put ourselves out there and hope for the best!

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  2. Words are so powerful, both the ones said and those not said. They have an equally lasting effect. Choosing our words is so important, as is when to use them. They cannot be unsaid. Even those that must be said, need to be heard. If the timing is not right, they are lost in the moment and so is their importance. Communication is critical, but is much be mutual to be effective. We need to speak to be heard, but we need to listen, not just hear.

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    1. You make an excellent point Annie, sometimes the words we didn't hear, but needed to, create deeper scars than the negative ones we heard too often. My father never said the words "I love you" to us until after My mother died in her 60's! We knew he did, but hearing it at last was wonderful. It is better to learn later than never.

      You are also right about timing and hearing the words spoken, not just registering the sounds, but taking the meaning to heart. Communication isn't always easy, we need to keep ourselves open to what others are trying to tell us, with words, and without words, and not to prejudge them if we don't understand.

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  3. I'm very happy to agree with you.

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    1. I'm hapy you stopped by to read and find something to agree with in my words, Shimon! I believe these are basic truths for human kind. We should treat people as we want to be treated, we should remember that things said and done in anger can never be fully revoked. If everyone made a studious effort to be a bit more kind and compassionate toward others, it would be a much nicer world to live in, and it's not such a hard thing to do!

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  4. I still writhe in agony at some of the things I said to my young daughter in the heat of anger. I was in constant pain with crohns disease, experiencing 'roid rage' from the high doses of cortisone, and dealing with a cruel husband. NONE OF WHICH is a viable excuse for aiming MY problems at a child.

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    1. think as parents we've all said a few things along the way we wish we'd never said, Lotta Joy. I've forgiven myself and my children have turned out well in spite of it. I think we have to accept that maybe we did the best we could at the time with what we knew and what we had and how much we were dealing with in our own lives. My children know I don't feel like I was a perfect parent, they disagree with me, and love me much inspite of it! (Though they do laugh and say maybe I was just a bit "up tight" and worried too much! Me?? Never! LOL)

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  5. There used to be that saying when I was a kid. 'Sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me.' My aunts said it to me all the time but I never really believed it because I was well aware how much words did hurt. And the hurt stays with you for a long time. We do have to choose our words carefully in this life. As my neighbour, Flo, says - 'If you don't have anyting nice to say, don't say anything at all....'

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    1. I remember that saying well Selma, we'd shout it at someone who said something hurtful, then we'd cry. Of course words hurt, they bruise the heart! I aggree with Flo, if it's not kind, why say it at all? We don't have to say everything we think, especially hurtful things.

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Your comments are always appreciated... they make me smile! :-)