Words

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”   A common rhyme I’ve heard many times.  The rhyme was usually said as an encouragement to ignore any name calling or mean taunts that were said by others in an attempt to hurt one’s feelings.  But, as we all have learned, words can be very hurtful.  The sting of a careless (or premeditated) comment can stay with a person for a lifetime.

I’ve always been astounded at couples that say they are “in love”, but insist on taking unkind and often rude shots at the object of their love. If my husband or boy-friend were to call me a “lazy, fat-a$$”, I would have to reconsider EVER speaking to him again.  Yet, I’ve heard this very phrase used several times in the past year between several young couples.  I have come to accept that words like this are indicative of the maturity of the individuals involved.  Immaturity breeds discomfort as well as a need to be “in-charge” of situations or relationships.  Using negative words are just one way to exhibit strength in a relationship:  they say  “I am the boss of my life!”  The negative comments are on the same level as an animal marking his/her territory.  If one is confronted concerning the negative talk, the response is often “Oh, I was just joking” or even worse, denial.

I have been guilty of using sarcasm as a passive/aggressive way of attacking others.  After all, sarcasm is just joking around, right?  Sarcasm is defined as:

the use of irony to mock or convey contempt

After being confronted with the definition, I realized that I did use sarcasm to  get my message across in an “innocent” manner.  If we are all honest, most of the humorous moments or jokes that we share at another’s expense have a basis in truth.  We usually have an agenda or a reason for poking fun at or making rude comments to our loved one.   Ephesians 4:29 TLB says:

Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.”

There is nothing better than having a kind and thoughtful partner in life.  Someone who “has your back” at all times.  This is the one person you can always trust to treat you with respect and consideration.  We all need laughter in our lives.  (FYI:  Dry humor does not have to be mean or sarcastic.) By watching what we say to and about our loved ones, we prove our love.  That’s not to say there will not be misunderstandings or hurt feelings along the way.  But, if I know that my husband is my biggest protector, it’s easier to cut some slack and forgive the occasional miss-step.

So, here’s the challenge:  watch what your say.  For the next 30 days, make a concerted effort to say only kind and uplifting things to your friends and family.   Be aware of what you say to everyone around you.  Consider the tone of your voice as well as your words. Before any comment escapes your lips, use this filter:  “Will my comment/joke hurt anyone’s feelings?”    Listen when others are concerned about what you’ve said or how you’ve said it.  They may have heard more truth  than you intended to convey.

sticksandstones

Things I wish I’d said.

There’s nothing more frustrating than to walk away from a conversation and then think of what you wish you had said. I always think of the wittiest comebacks, the sharpest digs and the best advice after I walk away. I guess that’s why I like the written word so much: I have time to think. I can rearrange sentences and thoughts, review everything for hints of idiocy, and just wait to be sure that’s what I wanted to say. But, today waits for no one and I can’t always weigh every word or thought too carefully.

We’ve all heard “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.” And in most cases I would have to agree. Too often, we substitute sarcasm for conversation. The definition of sarcasm is “the use of words that mean the opposite of what you really want to say especially in order to insult someone, to show irritation, or to be funny.” It’s too easy to be sarcastic and stay away from open dialog. If I’m on the offensive, sarcasm is my best weapon. I’m learning to just be quiet. But don’t confuse being nice with avoidance. Sometimes the “nicest” thing to say isn’t the “best” thing to say. The hard truth is often necessary and even kinder in the long-term. But, I will fall back (too often) into not upsetting anyone, say nothing and then regret it later. All of my words need to be thoughtful and caring.

Still, the words that I wish I’d said swirl around in my head. The regrets for opportunities missed will overwhelm me if I dwell on them. I cannot go back in time and say the things I neglected to say. So, I have made a promise to be generous with compliments. I will make the extra effort to make the person on the elevator smile. I will say “I love you” whenever possible. I will tell the people who mean the most to me how I feel. I will be truthful and honest and loving all at the same time. I never want to regret words not spoke, actions not taken, love missed.

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