Posts Tagged ‘words can never hurt me’

Sticks & Stones..or Panning for gold amongst the effluent

Monday, March 24th, 2008

Someone asked this question “Do you care what other people think?” in a forum I belong to today and that got me thinking. We are all familiar with childhood phrase “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Most of us have also been exposed to the idea that we create our own realities1 by the way we interpret the world. However, as I have mentioned elsewhere, there are some fundamental drives2 at work in our lives, and a very powerful one is the need to have our contribution and worth (significance) recognised by others. We are particularly vulnerable to those who we either care for or respect, or are in the power of.

It is a very advanced human being that can take in their stride others’ harsh, and perhaps false, judgments and not feel anything. Another aspect of this is when people say things about us they are telling us something about themselves and their experience of us. We can see ourselves and our actions through these ‘mirrors’ and whilst there will certainly be distortions there, they will give us more information that we had before. Mankind is a social creature and we need to understand how our actions are perceived and felt by others, especially if we need to influence them, and most of us do both need and seek to influence others.

There is a delicate balance to be found between burying our heads in the ground and ignoring nasty or painful data coming back to us and realising that amongst the muck might be the odd nugget of gold we need to pan for.

Of course this has all been written from the perspective of us as the central character in the drama with the “Slings and arrows of outrageous destiny” flying towards us. It would be just as true to say that we are just as often guilty of making those judgements and sharing them with others. Mostly, we all reside in glass houses and stone throwing is a dangerous hobby!

“Reputation is an idle and most false imposition; oft got without merit, and lost without deserving.” William Shakespeare

“Character is like a tree and reputation like a shadow. The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.” Abraham Lincoln


  1. Reality model, start here, then here
  2. Fundamental drives:
    1. Certainty (The desire to know and feel certain about important aspects of our life)
    2. Uncertainty (The desire for variety and adventure that makes our life interesting)
    3. Significance (The desire to be highly regarded and recognised by others)
    4. Love/Connection (The desire to give and receive love and experience fulfilling relationships)
    5. Growth (The desire to grow and evolve physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually)
    6. Contribution (The desire to share from the heart and contribute beyond ourselves)