Sticks and stones …

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“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”

Oh, yeah, right! In the interest of honesty, those sticks and stones are going to hurt like the devil and the names can pierce our hearts. Bet you already knew that. Oh my, the cultural “truths” shared with us in the guise of wisdom during our childhoods. Serious head shaking going on.

And speaking of “head shaking,” what about all the names I can call myself when upset? (I really don’t need outside help with name-calling. Sigh.) Sharing a small inventory of universal possibilities: idiot, fat, failure, loser, stupid or dumb. Defaming poor moi? Ouch. Do I, or any of us, really deserve self-condemnation on a routine basis for being, well, human and fallible? Is shaming ourselves a learning opportunity?

No, no, no. (No!)

Dissing myself would not be among my top three activities of choice. Do you have any idea what self-belittling does to our very impressionable brains? Oh, jeez, here comes …

“Our brain has a natural negativity bias to internalize negative experiences more deeply than positive ones.”

Whoa. You didn’t know you were a brain sculptor, did you? Sculpting our beloved brains in a counter-productive manner with critical words? Can we bring our brain sculpting activities out of the closet and into the light?

Our self-dissing just becomes additional fertilizer for the human propensity to go negative. Supporting increased neural pathways to the parts of our brain that are already velcro for the negative? Stop! I want off this particular carousel ride. This is not how I wish to sculpt my brain! And you?

In the larger scheme of things, I must remind myself constantly about upholding my basic humanity. Chipping away at my humanity, bit by bit with self-directed, hurtful words, makes me less available to a world in need and less caring of myself. I want neither. The world needs our “unchipped away” humanity as much as possible.

Up to the challenge?

Jan Hutton is a retired hospice/hospital social worker who believes in living life with heart and humor. She has happily lived in Chatham for 20 years.

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