Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me…
When I was in primary school, I had a very wise headmaster.
During an assembly he talked about how powerful our words can be. He quoted the nursery rhyme and said that he thought it was fundamentally flawed:
If someone were to push you and you fell, breaking your arm, it would really hurt. People would be able to see your cast and know that you had suffered. Yet whenever you thought about it you would remember that you were in pain but you wouldn’t be able to recall that level of pain.
However if someone said something that hurt you – even though your wounds wouldn’t be visible to others – for many years when you recalled those words, they would sear as if it were the first time you had heard them.
And he’s right.
Words, however quickly they fell from your mouth, however ill conceived, they will hurt.
Once a word leaves your mouth, you cannot chase it back. Even with the swiftest horse.
– Chinese proverb