Sticks and stones? Harmless. But words? Those little fuckers will stick to your skin like burrs, itching and scratching and eventually causing little calluses on your psyche.
It’s like the story I was told recently about the management conference gone wrong after an icebreaker game called “tin of shame”. Delegates had to write what they really thought about their colleagues on slips of paper and put it in a tin. It was then read out loud by the facilitator. The words spoken became the elephant in the room that eventually overshadowed everything: who said that about me? You? Why? Is that really what you think? Things quickly degenerated into a tense mess of furtive glances and frustrated allegations.
Same with when friends and lovers fight. We don’t take care of what we say. And we might make up or break up, forgive and forget… But words tend to stick around. And eventually, we have little careless word societies that set up shop in our heads. Fuck off. Screw You. You bitch. You’re weak. You’re selfish. You’re a child. Grow up.
It’s funny how the good stuff that is said doesn’t really stick with us. But something bad? Baby, those have got staying power.
I think after a while most of us have these clouds of words that we drag around behind us like a balloon on a string. Our perceptions of ourselves and others just become these big masses of words. They shape us and we feed on them.
I suppose the trick is to hang onto the good stuff. Hopefully, you’re lucky. Hopefully, your cloud is, on balance, positive words.