Jamaica Gleaner - - WELLI -

LAST TIME we asked you to be more sen­si­tive and car­ing in what you say to oth­ers. We en­cour­aged putting our­selves in the shoes of oth­ers, and ad­vo­cated appreciation for where oth­ers are and what they are go­ing through.

You were asked to re­flect on how you would feel if you were on the re­ceiv­ing end of de­mean­ing and hurt­ful com­ments. You were also asked to ap­pre­ci­ate how easy it is to dev­as­tate the life of an in­di­vid­ual in one so­cial me­dia post.

I promised that I would ex­am­ine the other side of the is­sue – What if some­one throws hurt­ful words at you?

Are hurt­ful words real or imag­ined? The fact is that your mind is the only thing that de­ter­mines whether words hurt or not. There are no universal hurt­ful words that up­set ev­ery­one. Worse yet, words that up­set you un­der some cir­cum­stances don’t bother you at other times.

So, I sug­gest to you that hurt­ful words are re­ally a fig­ment of your fer­tile mind. That is where this idea is born and where we will put it to death.

It goes back to how we process and file in­com­ing in­for­ma­tion. We know that in­for­ma­tion is dis­torted at the end of the sender and by us as re­ceivers. When we ex­am­ine those two fac­tors, we will see how words are ei­ther em­pow­ered or weak­ened in our minds.


By sim­ply al­ter­ing the con­text be­tween the sender and the re­ceiver, words can be made to be hurt­ful or of no mean­ing or sig­nif­i­cance; and all that is to­tally un­der our con­trol. We can make that hap­pen by our­selves in the pri­vacy of our minds. Words only have the power that we de­cide to give them.


Who can deny that there are times when we are more sen­si­tive? In those mo­ments, things that we might have let go do bother us, and we de­cide to take them on board.

You did not rest well, woke up feel­ing mis­er­able, faced un­be­liev­able traf­fic in foul weather ... “Hey, what do you mean by that? I am tired of your snide re­marks and your fake in­no­cence.”

On an­other day when you bounce into of­fice fully charged, the very same words from the same in­di­vid­ual pass un­no­ticed.


Be­ing up­set about what is said is also in­flu­enced by the con­text. Some­thing said in front of strangers may not cause you to make a fuss. How­ever, when spo­ken in front of peo­ple you know, it is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter.


This will set­tle the ar­gu­ment. The sim­ple ques­tion is whether you would take of­fence if an in­sane per­son said some­thing un­kind to/about you?

This is the crux of the mat­ter. We have per­ma­nent ac­cess to the switch that re­moves the fangs from the words spo­ken by the mad­man. We ac­ti­vated the switch in our minds to con­vert ‘hurt­ful’ to ‘amus­ing’ or ‘in­signif­i­cant’.

What we should take from that is that we can de­cide to re­move the power from any­one to hurt us with their words.

My grand­son teases: “Papa is a loser!” I don’t get caught up in a bout of self-doubt and height­ened con­cern. How­ever, hear­ing some­thing like that from a re­spected an­a­lyst might prompt re­flec­tion.

Ex­er­cise your mind and tri­umph over life’s chal­lenges!


In the fi­nal anal­y­sis, words only have the mean­ing that we give

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