Sticks and Stones

Sticks and stones will break our bones, but words will break our hearts. ~ Robert Fulghum


Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.  Ah, that tried and true mantra all mothers teach their offspring when other kids choose to pick on them. Is it really true? Honestly? No. It’s been found that physical and emotional pain use the same receptors of the brain. In fact, recent research has indicated that some of the medications (i.e. Tylenol)  used to treat physical pain also alleviate emotional pain. But, is numbing our pain a very smart thing to do? I don’t believe it can possibly be because when we numb our pain we miss the lesson the pain is teaching us. Unlike physical pain, where medication may be indicated to reduce swelling and to heal, our brains are not fixed in nature. (before we go further I want to stress, I am not talking about brain illness, I am speaking about the pain caused by the words or actions of another. I seriously don’t want to step on toes this time).



Though some believe a person’s personality is genetically preprogrammed, the science of neuroplasticity suggests our brains are malleable and can change and grow our entire lives, our experiences can rewire us.  Reality is actually just a figment of our imagination because (in reality) it only relates to us and our views without our considering a world view. Our views that were founded in, here we are, our experiences. Both the painful and the joyful. As such, the more we know pain, in all of its varying depths, the more we appreciate the good things we experience.  If we never felt bitter anger or abysmal disappointments and failures, what would be our grounding point, our standard of measure to know we are reaching a pivotally beautiful, happy apex in our lives? How can we truly appreciate the good unless we at first acknowledge and embrace that which is bad?


The point of all this, the take from? Instead of minimizing a child’s pain by nursery rhyming it out for them perhaps it would behoove us to explain, in a child’s terms why it is we ALL feel emotional pain at some point or the other. And when they wonder why they don’t act like, feel like, look like [insert any other falling short of the “us” crowd here], let them know that though we all have a brain, just like physical likeness, no two are exactly alike, so being “different,” being unique is undeniably a fundamental characteristic that gives us the potential for success in this world. If. Big if, we choose to embrace and learn and grow with our success AND our failures. Heck, I kinda think that’s what makes us the human that we are.

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6 thoughts on “Sticks and Stones

  1. I think that’s an amazing Point Cao, Something I wish others would do also is teach the truth about words. Yes words can hurt if they are provided the power to do so, there’s no doubt about that, But teaching to that the power of words is something that a child or a person has to give it in order for it to make any sort of damage to them. I think explaining why you feel this way when someone calls you something, but also explain the word itself so they understand it might help in the issue also, just my 2 cents but again wonderful post

  2. I believe that the emotional body is a distinct system, just as are the mental processes or reasoning, the physical body and the spiritual body. My evidence is in the region of psychosomatic illness, where a shock on the emotional body has it’s repercussions in the physical… such as stress related illness or even an asthma attack. As a child I was taught that everything we say rebounds not only on the person we’re directing it to but also on our own selves. Given that the human being is a relatively delicate organism at this point in our history, it’s not surprising that directed love can lift us up or conversely directed hate can cause depression with all its consequences. I agree with Moondance, that this needs to be taught to us as a reality, just as any other truth. It might then, at least, make some of us think before we open our mouths.

    1. yes, you both are very correct and I mention just this very same thing when I post about bullying and how bullying has bad effects on both the recipient and the bully. I actually went on in length about the power of positive words on several blogs but spoke of replacing negativity here: ( ) and I always speak of choosing kindness and the importance of chosen words over bad mouthing, but it will always happen as long as inattentive parents allow children to raise themselves, I fear. So in its place we must embrace our youth and their differences and teach them they are not different, they are gifted.

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