I can still remember all the things the other kids shouted at me on the playground. I can recall vividly several incidents in which what someone said to me made me feel like I was less than worthless. I hate the expression about sticks and stones, because it implies that you cannot be hurt unless someone physically attacks you. If there is one thing I have learned, it is that if you get a beating or get physically hurt in any other way, it hurts, but it is usually superficial, and you get over it. When you are verbally abused, it hurts right to the core of your very being, and it can still hurt just as bad decades later.
So many people seem totally unaware of the kind of effect their words are having or can have on others. Of course, most people usually do not mean to be cruel or hurt someone when they say certain things, however, unintended attacks can hurt just the same. Some things you should not say to people are kind of obvious, or at least they should be. These included make negative or derogatory remarks about someone because of how they look, what they are like, what they are wearing, about their family, religion, or their beliefs. Of course there are times when it might be necessary to say something negative about someone or something they do, but even then it is important to keep in mind how you phrase it.
There is never any need to be offensive or cruel. Unless of course, you aim to be cruel or offensive. Still, you might be upset or angry right now and feel the other person deserves to feel bad too, but do you really want them to still feel bad about what you say in a few years time? Words can have such power as to totally destroy someone. However, this is only possible if what you are saying refers to something the receiver feels insecure about or something they are very sensitive of. You might not always be aware what their weak spots are, but sometimes people are aware of it and use this on purpose.
When I was a teenager, I was really sensitive about my weight. Looking back, I was not a really fat kid, just a little overweight, but in my mind I was huge and ugly. Unfortunately, the kids at my school made some very cruel comments about my weight that did not exactly help matters much. I remember being 14 and having a crush on this boy at school who told me that if I lost 20 pounds he might consider dating me. I was totally crushed. To me this proved that boy thought what everyone else was thinking that I was just too damn fat and ugly to date. I could tell you worse examples of what has been said to me over the years, but some of these things still hurt me to this day, so I would rather keep them to myself.
Words can hurt, a lot. If you take nothing else from this story, please do remember that. The next time you interact with someone and you are about to say something that could possibly hurt or upset them, think twice. There are many ways to be funny and to laugh at each other and life that are not at the expense of other people's feelings. You can criticize without being mean, you can tell someone what you do not like about their behavior without being cruel. Let us all try not to hurt each other with words anymore, or with anything else for that matter.