Words are a writer’s greatest gift. In fact, most of us wouldn’t be writers if we didn’t love words. But as a psychologist, I am also aware that words, or at least the meaning we attach to them, can cause us a whole lot of grief. When we attach meaning to words, we experience emotions like anxiety, sadness, anger, guilt, or shame. When we get hooked on to these words, we make them bigger than they are.
In my line of work, I see several young girls who get extremely hurt when someone calls them ‘slut’. I remember asking one of them once if they thought they were a slut. ‘No, of course not!’ she replied. ‘So why then, does it bother you if someone says it?’ I asked. My clients almost always have arguments ready. ‘Others shouldn’t call me that’ or ‘it’s just plain rude’. And while I agree it’s rude, at the same time, aren’t we giving the person and the word a whole lot of power by hooking on to it? By giving it so much meaning?
In the same way, we can get attached to supposedly positive labels. A child who is labelled as inherently gifted and who gets too attached to this label is likely to base their entire self-worth upon this. If there is anything that happens to threaten their ‘gifted’ label, they are then likely to crumble. They’d rather choose something easy so as to keep up to the label than choose something challenging and god forbid, fail.
Whether comments are good or bad, the minute we attach meaning to it, we let it affect us. We let it define us. I have been guilty of this too. How else would I explain thinking I’m not good enough? I have let those comments get to me. I have let myself believe people’s comments meant something.
It’s not easy to ignore those. And that’s not what is recommended. Yes, words can hurt. But, and this is a very big but, it’s only when we allow them to affect us that badly. We can choose to tell ourselves they are just words. They are just someone’s opinion and it doesn’t mean anything. Of course, it’s easier said than done. But if we just practice it regularly and remind ourselves that they are just words, maybe then we wouldn’t feel so anxious, sad, ashamed, guilty or angry.
Maybe then, we’d be well.
How do you go with getting hooked on to words by others?
Are you able to distance yourself from the words? Or do you let them define you?
If you are new to Friday Reflections, here’s what it’s about. It’s the end of the week, you’re probably exhausted with work, and all you want to do is sit back, put your feet up, sip on some fancy cocktail or wine, and write away.
Write Tribe and yours truly give you writing prompts and all you have to do is choose any one of those prompts to blog about and link up every Friday. The link will be open till the Monday. After you link up, be sure to spread the love by visiting other bloggers who have linked up too.
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Prompts for this week
1. Write a poem that is about a brick wall – whether literally or figuratively
2. Write about a point in life where things turned for the better or worse
3. A well-loved toy from my childhood
4. “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” – Eleanor Roosevelt, This is my Story. Use this is a post of your own
5. Picture Prompt (copyright Living my Imperfect Life)
Our featured writer for last week was Eloquent Mind who shared the sights, sounds and memories outside her window.
Do link up this week and spread the love!
Until next time,