The following is something I wrote on another discussion board some time back.  I realize that there are those out there for whom words are genuine weapons, but I still feel that those weapons can be easily disarmed with the right mind set.  In any case, let's trot this out and see what the reaction is....


Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.

How many times have we heard that statement? But here’s the real question: do we really pay attention to it? Do we really recognize what it means?

I listen to people on some discussion boards all the time, getting upset because of other people who attack them for what they say online, for their opinions, for their thoughts, for the expression of their very identity. Some of them can’t take the heat and delete their words, which I think is a tragedy, because to me, that denies at least in part who they are. Some protest or attempt to counter or complain that they’re under attack … because they feel defenseless.

About 45 years ago, I remember being on a religious retreat. A black man who was a minister with a church in the inner city of Chicago had a number of truly amazing paintings he shared with us. There was no denying, as an artist, this man had skill and perception of his subject. Among the pictures which stuck with me was one of a woman, distorted, with no life or light in it. The artist told us, “this is the portrait of a woman who has been called a n*****.” Believe me when I say, I would just as soon print that word out, but I recognize the continuing realities of that word and its impact, even in the 21st century. My question is this: how much is that the product of the power of a word, and how much is it the PERMISSION someone gives to let that word have power over us?

Remember the opening above. Can words actually HURT YOU if you don’t let them? If you KNOW who you are, if you OWN that and have confidence in yourself and your self-identity, who can hurt you with mere words? Answer: NO ONE. The reason is simple: there isn’t the word that has been invented yet that can do physical damage to any portion of your anatomy. As to your self-image or identity or sense of self-worth, words only can accomplish injury With YOUR PERMISSION. If you don’t grant those words the power to hurt you, all they can do is blow away like dried leaves in the autumnal wind.

How would it be if those who would attack others for who they are were answered:

  • I am white
  • I am black
  • I am Latino
  • I am oriental
  • I am straight
  • I am gay
  • I am Lesbian
  • I am bisexual
  • I am unusual
  • I am alone
  • I am hurting
  • I am who I am…

… but I refuse to allow you to hurt me with who I am!!! Fact is, most if not all of those doing the attacking are bullies of assorted stripes, and they feed on people’s insecurities. Confront them with self-ownership and self-possession, and anything they attempt to hurt you with amounts to no more than those leaves in the wind.

For some who read this, it comes under the heading of “easier said than done.” Certainly there are those of you haven’t found your on personal strength, your own self-ownership, and who know that you remain vulnerable to jerks and bullies and those who think they gain strength by injuring others. About all I can say to you is that this kind of strength is truly yours, even if you don’t know it. All that is required is your own self-discovery. Possess yourself, even with your flaws, even with your weaknesses, and NO ONE HAS A CHANCE OF HURTING YOU WITH WORDS.

I also know that naming Rumpelstiltskin does not get rid of him. Finding one’s own personal strength can be a task encompassing years. I know this from personal experience. Even with that said, knowing what the problem is still comprises the first step in defeating the problem.

Tenet Nosce – Know Yourself. Own yourself … ALL of yourself … and it will take a lot more than a bunch of sound and fury, signifying nothing to bring you harm.

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Replies to This Discussion

One of my favorite subjects, words and how they affect people. We are 'taught' at an early age that by just saying nasty things to people they will get upset and feel hurt and some just get really upset by the silliest things, when in actuality, what harm does it really do? Words are just that, and soon enough if you are good at forgetting things, you will forget that someone said such words to you and someone else will soon take their place.

Now we find that we are 'banned' from saying particular words altogether, whether or not they are used in a derogatory term or not.

We say a perfect example of this recently when Rick Perry's 'Niggerhead' ranch was bought to light. Most news reporters could not say 'the' word on tv, some however, did. Bill Maher went ahead and just said it with the explanation that he was reporting news, not insulting someone.

We now find ourselves replacing the word with 'the N word'. Is this any different to actually saying it? It isn't as though when you insult someone you say: "You are such an N word". It really it kind of ridiculous. So to my thought, as long as you are not being derogatory, you may say the word.  I also find it absurd that it is ok for African Americans to say it when ever they see fit, but no one else can - even if not used as an insult or in a derogatory way. I love watching people when the say 'nigger' and then look around to make sure no one heard them or whisper it just for your benefit. If you are going to say it in the first place, then bloody well say it and the thing is, if I wanted to insult some one, whether they be black white or brindle, there are plenty of words that I could use with just the same effect. Now I am not being racist, I do understand the background of the word, but we don't have the same conditions any more, therefore the word is not used in the same terminology. It just seems a little pointless to ban a word when there a plethora of insults not containing that word that I could sling out if needed.

Australians are quite known for their colorful language and as an Aussie, I have used the 'C' word quite often. Since moving to America, I have had to explain to my friends that this word is not quite as offensive where I come from as it is here and sometimes it just slips out. My partner is rather used to it now and is comfortable at using it himself as he knows I take no offence to it - depending on it's use. We often use it in joke terms or replace idiot with it. "See that silly idiot (C) pull out in front of me?". And once again, it is often how the word is used that makes it so lethal. I would be more offended of he said I was a dirty housekeeper or a bad cook rather than a silly c*nt.

Having lived with an emotionally abusive husband for many years, I was subjected to a lot of name calling - and the worst I might add. Since our separation, I have come to the conclusion that all that name calling really got him nowhere, and though at the time it affected my self esteem, I have now come out of that to a point of you could call me any names you like now, I know what I am and your insulting opinion does not matter. Words have power, but are also easily forgotten.

So one word on its own, not so dangerous, but the use of that word in a sentence accompanied with a list of scathing insults pointing out your shortcomings, well now, that is something else.

It's not what you say but how you say it, but also how you interpret it and how you react to it.

Now if you will excuse me, I have to remove the rock in front of my gate. It reads Horsehead Ranch. I am not sure if I am insulting horses or the mafia.

Some people are offended by anything that resembles name-calling. In nother thread I asked if someone was a conspracy theorist and if they are I would not read another word from them. Suddenly I am told that I am name-calling (not from the person it was directed to).


Me?  The only thing that gets me now is being called stupid.  Everything else--don't care.

I saw that post Susan -- I know what you are referring to.

"that this kind of strength is truly yours, even if you don’t know it. All that is required is your own self-discovery. Possess yourself, even with your flaws, even with your weaknesses, and NO ONE HAS A CHANCE OF HURTING YOU WITH WORDS."

That is really nice Loren. Thanks




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