Words Can Hurt Part 2

…. And ultimately there is a positive side.

Someone I knew said to me repeatedly over the course of our relationship, “I always think about what I am going to say before I say it, consequently, I never have to apologize for what I say because I thoroughly thought it out.”

Huh? Seriously? Oh goodness, that sounds pretty superhuman, doesn’t it? Maybe a few words come to mind, arrogant, egotistical, proud, or narcissistic? I will say this person was on the right track to think before speaking, however, that doesn’t mean that extra thought was infallible.

There are those in my life who then use humour as an excuse to dish out what they believe to be witty, brilliant, sarcastic quips, reflections, or statements. The humour becomes a badge of intellectual honour that they wear with great pride. When these people are challenged on the hidden hurtful nature of their words, they quickly respond with, “I was just joking! Can’t you take a joke?” Hmmm, yes, and what about the statement, “Many a truth is said in jest?” Are you trying to deliver a covert hurtful message? As a teacher, I was hypersensitive to sarcasm and teasing in the classroom. I saw a number of times where it was very easy for the leader in charge (teacher) or kingpins (class bullies) would use humour as an excuse. The assessment phrase that comes to mind is passive-aggressive; another example of words holding a hidden agenda.

A strong and proud person in my life taught me the power of these words, I’m sorry. These words were particularly inspiring as they taught me self-reflection, humility, and taking responsibility. Moreover, I realized that being on the receiving end of an apology I had a role to play to welcome, honour the person attempting to reconcile. My words in acknowledging, accepting, and possibly forgiving were part of the complex process of reconciliation.

Ironic isn’t it, that we have all experienced the pain of hurtful words yet, we can so easily forget what it feels to be on the receiving end when our egos need for recognition, power, and righteousness takes hold. BUT, we can use these experiences of being on the receiving end or watching situations with hurting words as lessons that teach us empathy. We all know too well how hurtful words can be, so let’s use them as positive reminders as to how not to treat others.