STICKS AND STONES

The following excerpt is from the self help
psychology book, Be Your Own Therapist.


On the playgrounds of our youth we all heard the old phrase, "Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me." Unfortunately, many societal groups seem intent today upon claiming that words too always hurt. Whoever believes this gets to feel hurt a lot and is always at the whim of some person out there. Personal power is lacking.


It has only been in recent years that significant questioning of a hurt response to such verbal slings and arrows has developed. In the gay/lesbian movement there has been much recent discussion over the words "fag" and "queer" with many of the younger generation of gays and lesbians claiming those labels publicly. (Young blacks sometimes calling each other "nigger" has been a parallel development). By so doing, these younger men and women are increasing their self-esteem as well as making it impossible for homophobic/ racist bashers to bother them with words. This healthier response is an example of empowerment. A few happier activists are even coming to a belief that there is no such thing as adult verbal harassment. They are viewing claims of verbal victimization very differently. Their view is that claimants of verbal harassment have often thrown away possibilities for verbal repartee and capabilities for moving away.


Most people these days think that nasty names "naturally" hurt folks. Such erroneous thinking is causing huge amounts of unhappiness.

The process of name-calling is typically based upon feeling not OK, and name-callers are trying to make themselves feel more powerful by using the process. If I call you a name and get you upset, then I temporarily feel more powerful because I had a powerful effect upon you. My self-esteem rises at your expense. I project my unhappiness on to you and you take it on if you allow yourself to be upset. If you do not get upset at my attempt, then I cannot dump my original unhappiness on you. Then I am left not only with my failure to successfully dump it on you but also with my original unhappiness to boot. Thus, if you're successful at being unbothered by my words, then I wind up more unhappy; and I'll probably quickly stop those words. This is a key element to understand, that name-callers will usually feel worse if you do not react to their name-calling. They will therefore be much quicker to stop such behavior than if you get visibly upset.


Someone call you a name? Whenever you hear such a name directed your way, thoughts along the lines of, "The name-caller is feeling weak right now" will help to prevent a possible hurt for you. Another useful self-thought is, "Whatever people say about me says nothing about me but a lot about them." We would be happier, feel more self-esteem and change the world dramatically if we all thought the following, "If I get upset by someone calling me a name, then I have given away my power and I need to make a different choice."

Next Excerpt  

Emotionally healthy adults, with respect to anger, are comfortable with anger and hatred, their own and others.

More Excerpts This Chapter
   LET ME HIT YOU WITH A SLEDGEHAMMER
   THE TYRANNY OF JUDGMENTS
   THAT IS THE WAY I AM
   YOU MAKE ME UNHAPPY
   YOU HURT MY FEELINGS- THEREFORE YOU SHOULD CHANGE
   STICKS AND STONES
   WE DIG THINKING RUTS
   SIZE AND CONTENTS OF THE UNCONSCIOUS
   NATURE VS. NURTURE VS. LIFEPLAN
   THE PERFECTION THAT YOU ARE NOW
   BE HAPPY GETTING WHAT YOU DON'T WANT
   YOU'LL SEE IT WHEN YOU BELIEVE IT
   YOU GET WHAT YOU BELIEVE IN
   HOW CLOSE CAN WE COME TO "HAPPILY EVER AFTER"?

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