“Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never harm me.”
The well-known phrase has passed through a bit of a life cycle. Historically we always thought it to be true. After all, the physical threat of violence can cause clear and visible damage, whereas verbal tirades leave no physical marks.
In the 20th century the phrase came to be viewed as completely false. It may be true that the effects of non-physical attacks on an individual may leave no external trace , but the inner damage on the psyche, self-esteem and confidence of the individual run deep. They may even run deeper than any physical wound could. The damage caused by verbal abuse creates scars than cannot be erased and the person can suffer forever as a result.
In the 21st century we have gone full circle. It is not that modern day psychology has diminished the impact of negative speech; it is that people are now learning to negate the reality of that speech. The impact of negative speech is proportionate to what I allow myself to believe it. If I can disprove or ignore it, then, unlike physical trauma, I can remain unaffected by it.
The power of speech has only the power that we give it. I do not doubt that slander can cause real financial and social damage but what we are talking about here is being on the receiving end of a verbal barrage of negativity. Don’t own it!
It is only true if you believe it.
Don’t give away your power.