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Reflections: Conventional Wisdom

25/01/2017

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.” Old adage/nursery rhyme

Reflections: Conventional Wisdom - Sticks and Stones ... and Words do hurt

Reflections: Conventional Wisdom – Sticks and Stones … and Words do hurt

Words are singularly the most powerful force available to humanity. We can choose to use this force constructively with words of encouragement, or destructively using words of despair. Words have energy and power with the ability to help, to heal, to hinder, to hurt, to harm, to humiliate and to humble. Yehuda Berg

STICKS, STONES & WORDS HAVE THE POWER TO HURT: As far back as I can remember, I’ve never believed the conventional wisdom behind the notion that sticks and stones hurt but words don’t. Such arrant nonsense! In fact, words carry as much power to heal or hurt us. The energy behind angry, hateful words can be as destructive as a disease spreading through our bodies. By the same token, kind and inspiring words have the capacity to pull one off the edge. You never know when your words could be that weapon or balm so use them with great care. If you were ever the focus of a bully’s taunt as a child or the caustic words of a mean teacher or even the abrasive salvo of a troll, you’d know that words can destroy lives and leave wounds that might never heal the way a physical wound might heal. We must be as careful about our words as we are about our physical attempts to shove those we don’t agree with into the ground.

Your average bully is quite adept at hurling wounding salvos and could do damage to a child’s psyche; at times their vicious words hurt more than a smack could ever do. Neither is preferred but you get my drift…
Above and below, you could easily find at least 10 ways that words can be used to enrich and encourage us or to dismiss and denigrate us. I have highlighted 10 ways words can be used in Yehuda Berg’s quote above but, you can think of many, many more ways we use words to uplift and upend others lives.  As a lover of words, I marvel at the many ways the internet has opened the door to endless verbiage around the clock. When we are tired of the hashtags, slang words, and the wide range of newly invented urban dictionary words, we can turn to the world of emojis – visual symbols  that carry their share of sadness and joy. What role has sticks and stones and words played in your life? Which has had a lasting influence?

 

Sticks and stones may break my bones,
but words will never harm me.
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But names will never harm me
Sticks and stones may break my bones
But names will never down you Wiki

 

READ: Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon

More below!
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me.” Old adage/nursery rhyme

Reflections: Conventional Wisdom - Sticks and Stones ... and Words do hurt

Reflections: Conventional Wisdom – Sticks and Stones … and Words do hurt

What role has sticks and stones and words played in your life? Which has had a lasting influence? As a quiet, shy child growing up in a world of loud and colorful people, I found solace in losing myself in the world of books. I loved curling up in my dad’s study and diving deep into a book. I would escape to another terrain and was never disappointed by the equally fascinating, even outrageous, characters that lived there. I knew that words had enormous power to hold us captive and thrust us into a fantastical world inhabited by complex characters; both good and evil. Books became a way to retreat and escape the daily machinations of bullies/mean kids at school; I had to find a way to navigate around mean kids, a few angels, and my share of manipulative children whom I bet became same as adults. I hid behind my books and read everything I could lay my hands on. With words, I could escape to a creative space and reinvent my surroundings… Yes, words can be used to create and collaborate or to confuse and censor. Words can be used to teach and to deceive…
Even though I was shy, I came alive when it was story time or when a teacher asked for volunteers to read or tell a story. Immediately, my hand would shoot up in the air as my shyness disappeared and a whole other persona took over my being. As time went by, I developed quite a repertoire of stories to share, and my classmates often asked for more. My stories were mystical tales about bombastic creatures who rewarded or punished kids for a slew of reasons. Those stories spared me from being hit but didn’t spare me from being the brunt of mean jokes. So yes, words can be used to inspire and create worlds of fantasy, and they can also be used to maim and destroy lives…. We must always choose our words with care, for their wounds are far reaching and long lasting. What about you? What are your memories of the impact of that old adage?: Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never harm me.

“Words
are powerful
forces of nature.

they are destruction.
they are nourishment.
they are flesh.
they are water.
they are flowers
and bone.

they burn. they cleanse
they erase. they etch.

they can either
leave you
feeling
homeless

or brimming
with home.”
by Sanober Khan

 

This post was inspired by a Daily Post prompt – Ten – and a Discover Challenge prompt: – Conventional Wisdom –  This week, write a post that goes against the conventional wisdom — reinterpret something for us. Tell us about your unconventional views. Help us to see an old story in a new light. You could: Write about a cliché you’ve never agreed with.
Give us your interpretation of a book, film, poem, or song you understand differently than most people.
Take a photo of something most folks find boring or unattractive, and show us its unappreciated beauty.
Create a sketch that re-imagines a classic story.
Challenge us! Push us to think of the world — read a story, see a photo, hear a song — in a way we might never have thought of. To help other participants and new fans find your response in the Reader, tag your post #DiscoverWP. Not sure how to add a tag? Learn more.

Positive Motivation Tip: Be mindful of your sticks and stones and especially of the power of your words.

PHOTO CREDITS/ATTRIBUTIONS: All Photos: From Sticks and Stones, Words,  on Pixabay and my Personal Collection

Until Next Time…
Ask. Believe. Receive. ©
Elizabeth Obih-Frank
Mirth and Motivation
Positive Kismet

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12 Comments leave one →
  1. 25/01/2017 8:08 pm

    “READ: Sticks and Stones: Defeating the Culture of Bullying and Rediscovering the Power of Character and Empathy by Emily Bazelon”
    Bullying can of course be very hurtful. So maybe there is something in turning to the ‘Power of Character and Empathy’.
    Boys of a certain age usually end up in physical fights. If some other boy uses abusive words, a fight is put on. Even if the boys are a bit bruised after their fighting and they feel some pain, at least what has been said, to occasion the fight, will be forgotten: No harm done! Really, is this how teenage boys overcome bad situations? Come to think of it, do girls suffer more than boys from the effects of bullying?
    I felt often a bit lonely as a teenager. Yet I cannot recall that any sort of bullying would have caused me any problems. Except maybe for one teacher who was not very encouraging. With some encouragement instead of some ridiculing language maybe I could have done better.

    Like

    • 26/01/2017 7:55 pm

      Maybe we could have all done better. Mean teachers are a betrayal of the trust kids and parents invest in making sure learning takes place. I could never understand why anyone would go into the profession to terrorize kids… I met my share of them along the way and their nasty attitude was far more egregious than the behavior of some those insecure, carping bullies.

      Like

  2. Wanderlust Vegans permalink
    28/01/2017 4:33 am

    I never really understood the sticks and stones quote. I guess it was to try and build up someones self esteem? People are mean and those awful names we have all been called, stick around.

    Like

  3. Azlin Bloor permalink
    28/01/2017 4:48 am

    I totally agree with you, words can be so cruel. In this day and age of the virtual world, the potential for hurt is even greater with bullies being able to hide behind an invisible wall.

    Like

  4. Lisa Rios permalink
    28/01/2017 8:52 am

    I very much agree that words can be used to do almost anything & everything, but it is wise to use for the goodness of our-self & everyone around. I would also love to be someone whose words could inspire another human being.

    Like

  5. Anne Yedlin permalink
    28/01/2017 9:42 am

    What a great reminder that words mean more than anything. Used in a positive way can be such a blessing. But devastating all in the same when used in a hurtful way. I always tell people I would rather be punched in the face then be verbally abused. Bruises heal but words stick with you more than anything. Great post, thank you for bringing this to light.

    Like

  6. Sainab Sharif permalink
    28/01/2017 11:00 am

    I find words can hurt just as much. Saying the wrong thing in a spiteful way can always leave deep wounds!

    Like

  7. Hey Sharonoox permalink
    28/01/2017 2:15 pm

    I agree with you that “words carry as much power to heal or hurt us.” I don’t believe this conventional wisdom either. I learned from young to be careful with spoken words because when Words once spoken, we can’t retract it back again. Strike a balance like “Yin & Yang” by Confucius

    Like

  8. Jason Panuelos permalink
    28/01/2017 8:41 pm

    We really should learn to stay within ourselves and realize that not everything has to harm us. We are always stronger than we think 🙂

    Like

  9. Dawn Gibson-Thigpen permalink
    09/02/2017 5:43 pm

    oh man yep. words can really hurt. i remember they used to say hitting hurts worse. i disagree.

    Like

  10. duffelbagspouse permalink
    13/04/2017 5:36 pm

    Words don’t normally hurt, but when said by certain people or said to treat a confidence they can be like weapons.

    Like

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