Sat | Mar 24, 2018

Hurtful Words - Real or Imagined?

Published:Sunday | October 9, 2016 | 12:00 AM

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 them. Our mindset is what determines whether we experience insult and disrespect. We can Teflon-coat ourselves from incoming information by flipping the switch and disarming the source. Even feared or gravely disliked sources can be transformed into comic cartoon characters or harmless lunatics.

Let us watch our words. Be caring and understanding. Work at maintaining peace. However, be assured that only you can decide whether to give words the power to hurt you.

Flip the switch for inner peace and outer harmony!

Free behaviour modification webinar:

- Trevor E.S. Smith is a behaviour modification coach with the Success with People Academy, home of the 'Certified Behavioural Coach' Award. Now enrolling the next cohort. Last call for the two-for-one special offer. Email: