“”Words can hurt…but only if you let them. They called you bad names. Were you changed into the things they called you?”
“No,” I replied.
“You cannot forget what they said any more than you cannot feel the wind when it blows. But if you learn to let the wind blow through you, you will take away its power to blow you down. If you let the words pass through you, without letting them catch on your anger or pride, you will not feel them.””
--Joseph M. Marshall
--A common schoolyard retort
How many people live their lives as though they have received their identities, their place in significant relationships from the expectations or valuations of others? We often refer to these ideas of self and others as baggage, or life stories, or scripts that provide ready-made views into which we place others’ and our own behaviors and words. Many times we think we know the intent of someone else’s behaviors, their thoughts behind their interactions with us. Shaped by the words and behaviors of other people, and seemingly reconfirmed by our experiences that seem to reinforce those judgments, our interpretations and meanings assigned to other’s behaviors cause us considerable anxiety and upset for the rest of our lives.
The quote above from
Notice that we are not to let the things people say and do to us get hooked on our anger and pride. This is perhaps the key element in the above quote. Only when we perceive a threat, perceive that someone is “out to get us,” do we let the circumstances raise our anger or hurt our pride. Anger is a natural, although often undisciplined response to hurt. Anger and pride are powerful aspects of human beings and the more we let them influence our reactions to others, the stronger they become as elements of our behaviors and attitudes. It is often in these moments that our self-stories and stories of others get formed and anchored in our beings. Can we learn to simply let the insults and conniving pass without getting stuck in our beings? Can we let other people make mistakes, call us names, and take advantage of us without having to own in ourselves their behavior? Can we refuse to let them and their immature prejudices define who we are and how we live?
In refusing to let the wind knock us down, we can maintain healthy beliefs about ourselves and even others. Do we want to live lives dictated by others, or would we rather live lives that match our values, our desires; lives that allow us to be valuable, competent, lovable, and loving people? We cannot control others’ responses to us any more than we can control the wind. We can however simply let the wind blow – even if it is at times blustery, bone-chilling, or gale-force. The wind will buffet us; it might even knock us over once in a while. We need not though, let it keep us down.