Updated: Jul 30
There is a phrase "sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me". I heard this many times from my mother as I was growing up. Being a shy child, introverted and more used to spending time with my pets and animals on the farm than mixing with other children, attending school and surviving interactions and relationships with fellow pupils was extremely difficult.
How much do words hurt us?
This article I write to explore the latter part of my mother’s saying, "… words will never hurt me”. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Words can do real damage, some of us may have been told that; we are never going to be good enough, we are dumb or we are stupid.
Words will in fact do more damage; more permanent damage than most fractures and bruises that, when given care and attention will heal. Your physical body has a great propensity to mend itself, we are programmed with many neutrophils, leucocytes, glial cells and more that spring into action to do the physical maintenance and repair that our physical body needs each day.
How do we repair the words that hurt us?
Broken bones get repaired, mostly fully repaired; perhaps necessitating a plaster cast or even surgery but those words we hear can stay with us for many years, even a lifetime.
Those spoken words may not only affect our self-worth, they can also stop us from learning, developing a skill we enjoy, finding a career that fulfills us or unable to build relationships where we support others and get support in return.
We need to build bridges not roadblocks
For some of us these words can create roadblocks in our lives. Not all of us. Character and personalities are different, some people can be spurned on to prove people wrong, show family, friends, or teachers that they can smash through those roadblocks, enjoying the process, getting stronger each time they smashed through another roadblock.
One of my favourite sayings you hear on my relaxation videos is "we are all different", we are all unique. When we go searching for information to help us, emotional roadblocks do tend to be grouped together, generalized, ignoring our individuality, the fact that we are all different. I believe that we all have different roadblocks built in different ways and so we need to address those roadblocks personally and for ourselves. So how can we start in our own way to leave behind those hurtful words?
Clearing emotional roadblocks
In my work as a kinesiologist in Christchurch I enable people to demolish, smash down or climb over emotional roadblocks. Kinesiology allows people to change, in a way particular to them, finding where they need to repair past hurts or put issues in perspective.
Unfortunately you cannot all pop over to New Zealand to see me for kinesiology.
So what can you do?
Is there a reason behind your roadblock? If you notice that something is challenging, but it's something that interests you, intrigues you, you’d love to try but are held back. You need to carefully look back, without blame, to see what has happened. You need to be specific not just generalise such as "I didn't like school", you need to find out exactly what it was about school that you didn't like that caused your emotional reactions and relates to your present challenge.
Let me tell you a story.
Once upon a time (yes, I really enjoyed saying that) a teacher, a high school mathematics teacher wanted to help her local community, so she decided to volunteer at a local women’s centre to offer numeracy classes. As this was a not-for-profit organisation, she wrote some marketing flyers explaining how she could help, inviting women to come to her classes. Even pounded the pavements delivering those flyers in the local area.
The course was a great success. She even had a write-up in the local paper including a photograph of herself and her students at work.
But somebody in the neighbourhood wasn't impressed. One day when the teacher went in to give her class, the manager of the centre gave her an envelope someone had dropped off. Inside was a letter and a copy of the flyer that she'd obviously dropped into somebody's letterbox. She was stunned to read a letter saying she should be ashamed of herself and needed to return to education. She shouldn't call herself a professional as her letter, in fact a marketing flyer, was so full of mistakes that it was disgraceful a teacher should write in this way. To go with the letter the person had enclosed a flyer with many, many, many corrections, crossings out and of course it was nothing to do with the mathematics, it was nothing to do with the course, it was nothing to do with helping the community, it was just about the bad grammar and how the flyer had been written. It was after all a marketing flyer inviting people to come to a mathematics course. The great success was no more!
So what can be learned from this story, which is actually based on fact?
An increase in awareness is necessary. Of course we can disagree, not like something or believe someone's ideas are wrong. But our comments and the way that we criticise needs to be carefully thought out as harm can so easily be done long-term, a memory can affect someone's life.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and probably the best thing to have done with that letter would be either to burn it, put it under foot and jump up and down on it, screw it into a ball and flush it down the nearest toilet. Here’s a point about emotional reactions, if you are in a confident place, feel secure about everything you do, you can work towards protecting yourself. From the many people that I have worked with it’s often those people with little self-confidence that can take on board too many emotional setbacks.
It's often, after something has happened or someone has said something that we know how we should have responded, at the time. Again with hindsight, how could this teacher have stopped herself from just staying quiet and taking the comments, brick by brick to build a writers block.
Perhaps, write a letter to that grammaticality obsessed person, and with the passing of time have the opportunity to express their feelings. Write down what they thought of that person,what right did they have to say what they wanted to say, with no regard of the situation. The more generous amongst you may say perhaps the complaining person, had a problem or a need themselves? However this article is about the roadblock that has been created and the need to smash it down.
Removing emotional blocks with kinesiology
When a client is clearing emotional blocks causing physical or mental illness they choose their own ‘demolition’ method, tearing down the roadblocks to move on with their life, or relieve their physical or emotional pain. Below, I have chosen some methods I can easily explain for you to do at home that may be useful if you find a roadblock is stopping you from moving ahead in your life.
3 Ways to remove emotional blocks
Write down what has happened, particularly powerful if you are someone who likes to journal or keep a diary and treat the piece of paper as mentioned above. Or it’s time for action.
Address those hurtful words spoken to you.
1. Find a tree in the park, find a cardboard box or the rubbish bin will do. Look the rubbish bin in the eye? Speak the words you never found on the day but have been going around in your head for years. You have the opportunity to talk it out. To say that you were hurt, what they said was wrong. Whatever you need to say.
2. Actually climb over, say a box that represents your roadblock, decorations optional. Movement and your imagination give you a great brain body connection.
3. You can walk away a blockage. Movement by walking, by exercising, where we stimulate the brain with the contralateral movement of our arms and legs give us a chance to have new ideas or remedies.
On my stress courses I use this visualization method
In our busy minds we can often keep replaying a situation in our mind, over and over so this may be something to try.
1. Revisit what has happened. Then use your imagination to make it different.
2. Maybe change the colour putting a filter over the scene, put on the light, dim the light, change the clothes people are wearing, change the size of the people.
In this manner I improved my somewhat fearful attitude to making phone calls. In my first imagination the phone was so much bigger than me, so I shrank the phone and increased the size of me. That felt so much better, more confident.
There you have a few ideas. Remember, I said, and always say, we are all unique, we’re all different, perhaps you can find a way, just by yourself we don't always have to share our roadblocks, although some of you may have a good friend who can help.
Time to break down all those roadblocks, demolish them and follow your hopes and dreams.
What has changed in 50 years?
Some of the things we casually say to one another may be unthinkably cruel and thoughtlessly destructive. Though this can easily happen, without realizing, till the words have left us.
To finish this article, perhaps we should bring “sticks and stones will break my bone, but words will never hurt me”, into the twenty first century. I do have to mention that young children growing up today may be subjected to worse than 50 years ago, especially those hurtful words.
Recently, a news report played a recording of an eight-year child, online, speaking to a classmate - it was full of adult expletives (bleeped out) and the rest I cannot bring myself to write it was so unbelievably nasty and hateful.
As I write this New Zealand is in level 2 lockdown. We are beginning to open up after staying in home for seven weeks, with some way to go before we can return to normal. During the stay home campaign we also heard ‘be kind’ many times, so perhaps we can come out of COVID-19 saying much kinder words to each other.
Jean Jordan is a Naturopath and Kinesiology who specialises in natural treatment of ongoing pain, anxiety and stress at her clinic in Christchurch, New Zealand. She incorporates a wide range of modalities including, mindfulness, yoga and a wide range of kinesiology corrections.
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