When did you realize it wasn’t safe to say what you felt, thought, wanted or needed? Was it the time you told your father you didn’t like the way he drove? Or, the way your teacher called on you when didn’t know the answers? Or when the girls at school asked why you wore your hair that way?
Sticks and stones will break my bones, but words can never hurt me. Fat-ass. Idiot. Ugly, worthless weirdo. Stupid idiot. Words are one of the most powerful weapons on the planet. With them we have the power to destroy another person’s life; ruin a person’s reputation; take the spot-light away; make someone jump off a bridge; change the trajectory of another human beings’ life.
We are the only species on the planet with the ability to speak using words and that ability has created an epidemic of bad behavior and social recklessness. The bullying phenomenon has exploded to the point that people are losing their lives and the bullying ammunition are words.
It’s time to take that responsibility back and use the gift of words and voice to help others shine. To create the space to downregulate judgment and upregulate respect. To listen to connect, not to correct. To share and appreciate the spirit of our differences and to admire another person’s accomplishments, not humiliate them.
To a certain degree, most of us are guilty of using words to judge, demean, gossip, lie, blame and frighten others to get the outcome we desire. This happens with our children, our spouses, our co-workers. With strangers, service people and employees. Over time, we learn to be silent or to say what we don’t believe, in service of self-preservation. Eventually, we begin to believe the things we say as we disconnect from what we truly believe.
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