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Hope Forward: Surviving and Thriving through Emotional Pain: Were these said to you as a kid? Do you say them to your kids?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Were these said to you as a kid? Do you say them to your kids?

And if so, do you believe them? What kind of impact did they have? Do they have? Of course each of us receives messages differently, but it's always curious to me how much of an impact words and phrases do actually impact us. It may not in fact be true that sticks and stones may break our bones but words will never hurt us.

So here are a few phrases that many folks have heard as they were growing up:

"You made your bed...."

"You are not working up to the best of your ability."

"You can accomplish anything you set your mind to."

"You should have known better."

"You should be ashamed of yourself."

"Sorry doesn't cut it."

"You'll get what's coming to you."

"Chin up." or "Man up." or "Suck it up."

"Stop crying or I'll give you something to cry about."

"Don't let the bed bugs bite."

What to they mean? How to they play in our heads? Do we really have control over letting bed bugs bite? Does "chin up" mean we should not feel sad when we are sad? Should we pretend things don't hurt? Ignore our feelings? Will we really get what is coming to us? Does this mean that we deserve to be punished? That we should be frightened or worried? That mistakes are not allowed? Is saying we are sorry not enough? Ever?

When, and for what, should we really be ashamed of ourselves? And at what age should we know better? How can we know what we don't know? How much can children know anyway?

Can we really accomplish anything we set our minds to? If we can't, then what? Does this mean we are suppose to have control over things so long as we try? How do we know what the best of our ability is, actually? What if we don't want or need to work up to the best of it? Are we failing if we don't? How hard should we try? And what about that bed we made? Again, does this mean we are stuck with what we have? That if we've made a mistake we have no choices. That taking responsibility for our actions means we merit no empathy for errors or mess ups. Or no help getting to a better place?

I think that in the gentle study of human behavior, as we talk through our frustrations and fears, our hopes and longings, it helps to take a look at the words we have heard, to see what runs through our minds. It's a small part of the puzzle of our lives, but worth a look.

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