Monday, December 5, 2016

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones...

I heard this old saying today and it got me to thinking about mental health once again.  If sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me, then why does name calling hurt people so much.  This is a saying that I heard quite often as a child, so was it true 30 or 40 years ago, or was it always wrong?

We can break bones and they will heal if properly repaired and tended to.   Are we able to repair our ego or self-esteem as easily if someone calls us a derogatory name?  It would seem not!  When we are subject to physical harm, there are steps we can take to repair damage and heal ourselves.  We should be able to do the same thing with our mental well-being.  Likely there are steps we can take to heal ourselves but we simply have not figured them out yet.

With a physical injury we need to tend to it until heals, and we cannot simply suppress it and hope that it goes away, yet this is exactly what we do with mental wounds.  We take them and hide them deep within ourselves and hope that if we forget about them, that they will eventually heal and disappear.  We would not do this with our physical health, so we need to start looking at our mental health in a different way.

Sticks and stones will may break my bones, but words will always hurt me!  This seems to be a much truer statement in this day and age.  Many of us are afraid to say things nowadays in the fear that we will offend someone else.  Words are constantly changing, with new slang ones  being created all of the time.   At one point in history the word 'gay' meant something totally different than it does now.

So was the saying wrong decades ago, or have we just weakened as a society.  I believe that name calling has always hurt others, so the statement itself was always wrong.  It just sounded like an inspiring thing to say to young people when they were subject to mean things being said to them.

I also believe that we have weakened in this way though.  Too many people take too much offense for honest and well-intended comments that were never meant to hurt anyone.

Was our mental health stronger years ago and therefore we were able to take name calling better?  I don't think this is the case, but there is some merit to the question.  We all had much less information to process and understand each day before the internet came around, so we had less things to think and worry about.

Maybe our mental health has not adapted to the excessive speed of the world yet and is simply trying to catch up.  It could be why so many people are suffering from intense fatigue these days.  All that name calling over the years may be still weighing us all down, and is now manifesting itself in overthinking, depression and anxiety.

Either way, don't call people names, it doesn't do anyone any good.  If someone else calls you a name, it is likely because of some deficiency that they have, so try not take it personally.  Name-calling can do a number on someone's self-esteem, so remember that words can always hurt, so be careful how you wield them!

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