Words are like Toothpaste

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the power of conversation, the often unrealized damage that can be caused by things that are said- even casually. I remember when I was younger a teacher split us into groups and gave each one a tube of toothpaste, instructing us to empty them. Afterwards, she offered a chocolate bar to anyone that could refill it again. It was impossible! She explained that it was exactly what our words were like, once something is said, it’s ‘out there’ and you can’t take it back. Do you remember that saying you’re told when you’re little? “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” It’s complete, utter bullsh*t! Why are we taught to ignore what people say? Why are we told to simply brush it off?

It is human nature to desire connection, to feel loved and accepted, to ‘belong’ to something, someone or somewhere. We are constantly seeking out relationships, friendships and even the idea of a ‘home.’ So when somebody says something against you it’s going to hurt. But should we ignore it? I don’t think so. Someone recently told me that they didn’t want to know me anymore because I was such a terrible friend, I had tried everything to support them, to be there for them, but I didn’t know what else I could do. It really stung. And it became a bit of a moral dilemma really, forgiveness and forgetting, there’s a big difference. I forgive them of course, I’m not going to hold a grudge, but will I trust them as much? Probably not.

They say we need to think about everything before we say it. I don’t know about you, but I babble, I rant on about ridiculous things, so much so that I often don’t have the time to actually think about them. My mind is processing as I am talking, It’s concurrent, and I can’t change that. Everybody’s different, it just comes down to your personality and natural traits etc. What is interesting however, is this expectation within society that we are supposed to ignore when people put us down. And yes, I know it exists only to benefit us, to protect us from actually feeling the pain. If it worked practically, it’d be great, but it doesn’t. Whether you intend to or not, words hurt. They can be the difference between an ‘all right’ day and the kind where you just want to give up.

A really close friend once said to me, “Celsie, have some standards and f*cking stand up for yourself.” I think this rings true for everyone. Start telling people when they’ve said something that has hurt you, don’t just brush it off. Chances are it could be a misunderstanding, or maybe they didn’t even realize, upon which they’ll most likely apologize. And if not, if they were saying it intentionally, then they deserve to be told that it’s not Ok. They deserve to know that that kind of behavior isn’t acceptable and it’s certainly not fair.

Here’s a really interesting video about the power of language, it’s not directly related to the kind of stinging comments I’m talking about, but it does offer some fascinating insights into the characteristics of direct speech and why we so often use innuendos instead.





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