may break my bones
but words will never hurt me.
I wish that childhood rhyme were true. Unfortunately words often create more damage than sticks or stones might. Wounds that won't heal because the mind repeats those words like a broken record, spinning round and round forever.
You will never amount to anything.
You're so stupid.
You'll never be good enough.
You're so ugly
[or fat or scrawny or any other physically descriptive negative word].
Stopping that record from playing takes time... and work. Painful work because often those words imbed themselves so deeply into our psyche that we are not aware of the hurt until we are adults. We can look back over the choices we've made ~ the good, the bad and the ugly ~ and see the patterns that we want to change.
What often makes healing from those words so difficult is that they can start from childhood. The things that children say to each other on playgrounds... sibling rivalries... parents lashing out in frustration and anger.
Children pick up words and mannerisms from the world around them. They model what they see and hear. Words flung like weapons on the playground reflect what they have heard before somewhere else.
Those "weapons" heard on the playground, in classrooms, or at home may forever become a repeating record if someone does not make a conscious effort to change it before they become memories that can never be forgotten... and wounds that never heal.
A few months ago, a five-year-old neighboring child called me a mother f*&%^r. Five years old with a trashy mouth that he inherited up from his mother. His older brothers (ages eight and eleven) frequently threatened to kill me, one even waving a metal pipe in my face.
It is sad to know that those boys will grow up hearing those words, seeing that anger and violence... and sad to know that record will continue to play for them all their lives... and play for their children... and for their grandchildren.
Stop the record.
Stop the cycle of violence, anger, hate-filled words.
Stop and think of what you are about to say....
.... and instead teach and speak words of love and encouragement.