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  • Writer's pictureTim Brown

Sticks & Stones May Break My Bones ...

Dear Little Owl,

Why is it that words can cause us so much pain as well as so much pleasure? Is it the actual words used? Is it who uses them? Is it how we interpret them? Why do they impact how we feel moment to moment?

The other day Ivy came to me a little upset because one of her friends had said that she was in love with a boy in her school? I knew how she felt, I was often prodded with similar statements from my brother growing up, at the time it felt like the most hurtful and embarrassing thing you could say to me, I think her name was Vicky, a small girl in our class with blonde hair. That’s what all children do though, right? Say the things they know will wind each other up and get the best reaction without anyone else noticing? Like most parents when faced with a problem served up by your child this was my chance to splurge how wise I am, and save her from this awkward moment! Isn’t this what being a parent is about? I’ve dreamt of these moments, I was born for this moment. What clever words of wisdom have I got rolling about that I can pick that will take this pain and embarrassment away, and show why I’m a parent? “Not, that one”, “hmm maybe this”, “got it,” “words can only hurt you if you believe them”. I was actually quite chuffed with my swift response, like! Judging by the, “Is that all you’ve got" response, Ivy did not share my enthusiasm, she blocked it with a daddy you’re not helping stare. So I did what all good men do in the face of knockback when you don’t get the response you expected, repeat it again, and continued twice more, convinced she never heard it the first time around, hoping that each time she would eventually get it, I know, in hindsight, it was me who didn’t get it though. Note to self, the best interventions don’t always require words, sometimes it’s best just to listen. Still, I was so pleased by my response I was convinced that someone would find it helpful so I posted my new insight on Facebook.

Why is it when you know you are going red, it only makes it worse? What is the point of going red anyway? How does going red help us? It basically tells everyone who is around us to look at us even though this is the last thing we actually want them to do. It always starts around my neck then rises like a volcano ready to erupt. Last week I was in a meeting at work and told everyone that we were expecting a new baby in December. Then one of the other managers said, “you were riding more than your bike than during lockdown then”. I tried to style it out, by admitting how red I could feel myself going but this only made it worse. The thing was I wasn’t offended, I actually thought it was really quick and funny, it was only one sentence, a few words, it’s strange how it had such an impact on me?

"I am deeply sorry if I offended this lady, that was not my intention"

It’s hard when you are so sure about something then you share it with someone else and they throw it back at you by giving another perspective, you go from being so confident with yourself to feeling a bit silly. This is exactly what happened when I posted the comment on Facebook. Someone commented, “try saying that to someone who has been in an abusive relationship.” I was really shocked, my intention was to help others not to cause more pain. I was going to comment back but did not know what to say, from being so confident about my new revelation about words, I now felt out of my depth, not wanting to make things worse, I pressed the heart button. I decided to let other people respond where I felt inadequate. Then as more and more commented two camps began to form, those that believed words do hurt no matter what, and those that words only hurt if we allow them too, if we believe them. I am deeply sorry if I offended this lady, that was not my intention and I am truly sorry for the abuse you received, no person has the right to put someone through that, when it comes to words is it the actual words that cause us pain or the meaning behind them or the person that used them? What do you think?

Anyway until next time

Take care


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