Thursday, April 1, 2010




By Marla Mitchell

There’s an old proverb, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” We all remember hearing it as children and we may have even said it a time or two when someone was being mean to us but, did it make us feel any better or stop the person from berating us again? Usually not, plus acting hurt or offended only made the situation worse. That would just lead to more insulting names with the suggestion to “… grow a thicker skin.” How helpful is that? I’m betting that most of us were teased or humiliated a time or two during childhood which means, we all know what it feels like to be on the receiving end. That being the case, why then as adults do we still treat each other that way? Why do we feel the need to judge, make inappropriate comments and gossip about each other? What purpose does it serve?

As I stated earlier, somewhere along the way, we had it done to us first and so this negative behavior was learned. The ego doesn’t know how to nurture or take care of itself when it is detached from Spirit. The ego only knows what it learned in childhood and so it reacts with anger and hurt in order to feel superior, gain control, and feel less vulnerable. Whatever the reason, what most people fail to realize is that when we choose to act in such a way... we’re hurting ourselves even more. When we ignore Spirit and choose to feed the ego by gossiping, judging, or being spiteful, we are re-opening and deepening the pain of our past wounds. Ever hear the phrase, “What goes around comes around”?

So, how can we change our behavior and heal our past at the same time? We do this by choosing to work on ourselves first. To begin with, we need to be more aware of our own thoughts and feelings.
You have to feel it to heal it!

We need to acknowledge that we have pain and hurt inside and “feel it” without getting lost in it or identifying with it. If we identify with it, we become the victim all over again. Not only is that not healthy, it’s detrimental to our Spiritual health. The role of a victim represents “weakness” and when the ego feels weak, it’s compelled to feel superior again. The only way the ego can feel superior again is to “hurt and humiliate” someone else. Do you see the cycle and how it perpetuates even more pain and guilt?

If we want to break the cycle, we have to start being responsible for our own thoughts and actions first. That means practicing self-discipline in everything we do (mindfulness). We need to make conscious choices every moment of every day and do what is best for ourselves by putting Spirit first and ego second. In order to do this, we need to “live more in the moment” and “think before we speak.” It means we have an obligation to ourselves to choose whether or not to participate in gossip, negative language or criticism, by practicing mindfulness. Along with this awareness, we should also include the practice of exercising healthy boundaries with overly negative people. Remember, we teach others how to treat us by our own behavior and choices.

“We must be the change we wish to see.”

Mahatma Gandhi

It’s not about keeping score or the other person’s failure to listen to Spirit; that’s their lesson and their consequence. You can’t learn it for them, nor should you try to rescue or feel sorry for them. When they are ready, willing, and able to heal, they will do the work for themselves. What matters most is…. that “you” practice mindfulness and that “you” choose to take the high road by doing what is best for you and your soul! As for that old childhood proverb… here’s a newer more appropriate rendition:

“Sticks and stones may break our bones but words will break our hearts.”

~Robert Fulghum~


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