We all know the saying “sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Unfortunately, that saying isn’t entirely true. While sticks and stones can certainly break our bones, words can and do hurt us. As a little kid, we think nothing of making fun or teasing someone else. What we don’t realize is that words can have a profound effect on our lives and others lives as well. The moral: choose your words wisely.
Choose Your Words Wisely: The Hurt of Name Calling
When I was in kindergarten, I had a lazy eye. I ended up wearing a patch for a few weeks. Afterwards, I had to start wearing glasses. As the only person in my class wearing glasses, I was an outcast. I remember seeing that I was the only one wearing glasses and thinking that I was different. I can’t say for certain if I thought it was a good thing or a bad thing, I just remember being different.
This all changed when a classmate called me “four eyes.” From that moment, I saw myself as being different in a bad way. As I got older, the stigma of glasses didn’t leave me as all of the television shows that I watched had the kids with glasses as the typical “nerd.” It wasn’t until I was older that I learned that glasses didn’t define who I was or who I am.
Choose Your Words Wisely: Words of Discouragement
Another personal example of this is one day when I was older, I was wearing shorts and a t-shirt. I am a tall, lanky person, with naturally skinny legs. When someone yelled over to me, “hey chicken legs”, the doubt of who I was came flooding into my mind. I stopped wearing shorts for a few years. It didn’t matter if it was 100 degrees outside, shorts were not an option.
Today, I wear shorts all of the time, but if I hear someone call me chicken legs, it does take me back to that place years ago.
Choose Your Words Wisely: Choose Words of Encouragement
Instead of pointing out differences between people in a negative way, we should learn to point out their differences in a positive light. Instead of calling the person with glasses four eyes, compliment them and mention instead how the glasses bring out a certain facial feature. This will make the person feel better about themselves and will also make you feel good, knowing that you brightened up someone’s day. The key in all of this is to be genuine. Everyone can see through a veiled attempt to compliment, including kids. Be genuine and honest and they will appreciate your words of encouragement.
When you choose your words wisely, you encourage others as opposed to discourage them. When you choose your words wisely, you help others grow and become better people as opposed to limiting them and keeping them from being their best. Learn to choose your words wisely and everyone can benefit.