Sticks and Stones

27 Aug

Name calling is something most of us have done at one time or another. We get frustrated and angry, and before we know it an insulting and derogatory name or label directed at someone else flies out of our mouths. It often happens before we even think about it. We say it, we vent, and it’s over. Unfortunately, once it’s said it doesn’t go away, and it’s there forever. We can’t take it back. If we make a habit of calling people names, we may negatively impact our relationships. The old saying that “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me” isn’t exactly true. Being called a name is hurtful. It stings and can cause a lot of damage, especially if the other person is someone close to us.

If someone calls us something uncomplimentary, we may throw the insult back at them by calling them a name in return. That’s fair right? They started it, and we’re going to end it. But that’s not the whole story. Our negative response, if it’s strong enough, may well end the conversation, but the damage may be long lasting. There is another way. If someone we’re interacting with gets angry and calls us something derogatory, we can choose to end the encounter. We don’t have to continue the conversation, and we can instead walk away and wait to talk with them until after things have calmed down. It takes self-control not to jump into the fray and exchange barb for barb, but we can do it. If we walk away and end the discussion before the situation becomes more intense, we have a better shot at preserving the relationship.

Sometimes we get angry and are so furious we are the ones to call someone else something awful. We may regret it the moment it passes our lips, or we may regret it later when we think things through. But what’s done is done, and there’s no changing it. If we pay attention we can recognize when we’re reaching a breaking point, and stop the discussion until everyone settles down. If we do, we may prevent situations we’ll regret. It’s always easier to protect a relationship before the damage is done than it is to patch things up after there’s been a destructive complication.

Today if you’ve been called a name by someone close to you, you may be hurt and think of leaving the relationship. Try to step back and give yourself time to think. When the dust has settled and you’re calm again, you’ll make the best decision going forward. If you’re the one who’s lost their temper and said things you regret, as soon as possible talk with the others involved and apologize for anything that was inappropriate. Our relationships are important. They take time to build. It can be hard to fix things when we’ve hurt them, but it’s harder to lose them altogether. Life is a two way street. When we get into the wrong lane, we need to adjust and correct our course. You can do that. Today, choose the high road. Be the one who makes the situation right, and brings things back to center.

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