We’ve all been there. Heard something someone has said about us and felt the fire in our belly or the sting of tears as we try to make sense of it. It might be a close friend, a co-worker, an acquaintance whom we exchange polite conversation with in the community, or even a family member. No matter who it is, if we are not expecting it, the hurt is the same. It’s painful. We take it very personally, and why wouldn’t we?! They are talking about us! Strangely enough though, it’s really not personal. Most of the time, what people say about you is a reflection of them, not you.
Sadly, we’ve also all been THAT person. The person that says something callous about someone thinking it will never get back (but it always does), or saying something hoping it will get back so someone else can do our dirty work. Maybe our words are said in a flash of anger, in a fit of jealousy, or even after one too many drinks. Whatever the reason, once words are spoken, they can never be taken back. People may forgive you, but they will never forget how you made them feel. I can’t tell you how many times I have hurled angry, hurtful words in the heat of a moment and regretted them as soon as they left my lips. Sometimes spoken directly to the person I’m upset with, while sometimes spoken behind their back. Either way, once said, they could not be retrieved and the damage was done. In retrospect, most of my “reasons” for talking about someone stemmed from my own jealousy and insecurity. It really wasn't "personal".
This year I’ve been using an image I got off Pinterest with my students…
The bottom line is this…whether it’s a 6 year-old student crying over another child calling them ugly, or a 56 year-old friend crying over gossip, rumors and hurtful words, the lesson is the same. Realize the power your words have and remember they can never be reclaimed. What you say lightheartedly to a group of people, can have lasting effects on the person you are talking about. Treat others the way you want to be treated and if you don’t have anything nice to say, say nothing at all. Most importantly, THINK before you speak. It’s a lesson we can all benefit from.