Oh the things people say: “You’re good with the customers but you’re not management material.”
Why do some people react to hurtful comments while others seem to have a thicker skin? The only reason for approaching the topic in writing is that I used to be one of those sensitive types. I learned through needless suffering to deflect the jabs by setting boundaries and kicking out the insult-bearing squatters from my head. Writing a memoir or life story does bring up some of those nasty memories.
The opening scene in the rough draft of my memoir is a one-line zinger that somebody slapped on me at a family function. I got zapped. Verbally tasered. I fired back with what I thought was a classy response. The offender and I never talked about it.
Put-downs, maligning and one-upping happens to everybody. What years of being a parent, grandparent, wife, sister, and friend has taught me is that others have similar experiences. Everyone is sensitive in varying degrees, and that being a “sensitive” is actually a skill. When I earned my degree in psychology and participated in years of workshops, what I learned is that if I don’t get a handle on reacting to people who bully, I risk becoming bitter and resentful.
Writing is a good way to deal with the hurts and move on from the jabs and insults.
While I wrote jokingly in one of my blogs about men being Neanderthals, it is women, it seems, who have a special talent for murderous competition designed to make another woman want to quit. For those of you who have been the recipient of digs and jabs, please take heart and learn to fight back or move on. You’re worth it. I know, because I’ve been there. Sometimes we’re the ones who do the zapping. Everybody I know, male, female, gay, trans…whomever…has stories about the war of words.
Here are a few one-liners I’ve experienced in my life. Some are light-hearted. Some were turning points/wounds that required spiritual counseling and even regular counseling so I could heal. They might not make sense or seem that intense, but as each writer knows, words shape our stories.
What happened to you? Did you get sunburned through a screen?
“There’s a man down in those trees. He’s going to come and get you.”
Don’t worry, they’ll grow.
What are you doing here, jackass?
Why don’t you want to play doctor with me? Don’t be scared.
Who made the coffee this morning? It’s too weak.
Who made these rubber band eggs?
Who scheduled this appointment?
What about your age?
Is this the new help? (that would be me)
You’re really filling up those pants.
You act like you’re single.
You don’t care about me.
You don’t love me.
When did YOU ever grow up?
You have private property hang-ups.
You think you’re so smart. That job just landed in your lap.
You have a repressed mouth.
Why don’t you go back to Europe where you came from?
You don’t understand simple things. You have ownership issues.
Don’t do this because you’re humiliated.
We’re going to teach you a lesson.
Well I hope you learned your lesson.
You’re a two-faced elitist.
You need help.
That’s why Susan is so screwed up.
You can’t even put a lid on a jar right. What’s wrong with you?
(Thank you Jesus, I never broke anyone’s face. I would come home from working all day and have to make dinner while my kid’s father had been home. Then he would get on my case after I’d make a cup of tea for myself to get through the meal-making).
I’ve had guests come to my house, eat the meals I prepared for them, enjoy the bedroom I fixed up for them only to have someone say, “You make me tired. Can’t you just relax?”
Yes of course there are more one-liners to add to the repertoire. But I’ve done my ceremonies. Writers & journal keepers can use the words/scenarios to add to novels, memoirs, and interweave them into their characters’ lives. Don’t forget the positives!
Journal prompt: Do you remember things that people have said to you that hurt? Do comments people have made stay with you for life? Write them down. Later go back and write a brief explanations after each comment. This is for you only for right now.
If you decide you want to elaborate, go back and write the emotion or feelings that you experienced after the words were spoken.
Discussion: Experts have found that the act of writing affirmations and positive summaries has a powerful affect on our health. Do the exercise again and use nice things that people have said to you. Notice if there is a difference in the way you feel. Compliment yourself in your journal often.
Also, one way to deal with hurtful words is to take the list and have a releasing ceremony. Put the written words in a fire and burn them. Say “I now release all this hurt forever.” Another way is to make a paper boat and write some of the terms or words that have wounded you and put it in a moving body of water. (please be eco-conscious).
Put your list through a shredder.
You can do a freezing ceremony to get rid of your words-spoken list. Put the list of wounds in a bag and freeze it. Later on when you are ready, in a couple hours, days, months, dump your list in the garbage or compost pile if you have a garden. Another way is to paint on biodegradable materials and bury the issues in the earth. Or make art. Do a collage or sand tray exercise and work with those hurts. But at the end, it’s imperative to be positive. Make up your own ways to put the issues out of your psyche and your world.
Happy writing, everybody. Cheers!