Sticks and stones,
May break our bones,
But words will never hurt me.

Really! I don’t think it’s true at all, because words can and do hurt us. I always wondered if the writer of this saying was a recluse, who didn’t have loved ones, because sometimes their words could be most hurtful. Sometimes even the people who are closest to us, don’t really know what experiences we’ve had and what journey we’ve made to get to where we are, and then they end up saying things that hurt us without them even being aware of it. I’ve experienced the devastating power of words first hand, when someone once told me to ‘not waste time and money on frivolous things like creating art’ because I wasn’t ‘that good anyways’ and I believed it and didn’t paint again for almost 2 decades. I’ve also seen the healing power of words when I brought my kids into a discussion about one of the biggest decisions of my life at that time and they told me, ‘what took you so long’. Just 5 little words had the ability to set my wounded soul on to the path of healing.

I’d started this painting a couple of years ago based on that traditional saying that I mentioned in the beginning, and then didn’t feel motivated to finish it, because somehow I just wasn’t able to get beyond the sticks and stones part.

Since then as I’ve grown older and hopefully a little wiser, I’ve also come to see beyond just the words of that saying and realize that maybe what’s meant by ‘words don’t hurt me’ is that I’ve ‘Chosen’ to not ‘Allow’ the words to hurt me. Words can hurt because sometimes we associate them with certain people and incidents in our life. We need to make a conscious choice to NOT associate words with our negative experiences from the past and avoid reliving the hurtful moments, every time we hear those words uttered. Some times it’s better to take people’s words at surface value and not read in between lines. Often in conversations, there are several different interactions going on simultaneously; what the people are actually saying, what they meant to convey, how they’re interpreting each other’s words and how it is impacting them and I’ve learned that there really is no need to have that many layers to every word and every conversation.

What a revelation it was, when I realized that elation as well as exasperation is in our own head. It’s in the stories we tell ourself. More often than not, our suffering is not because somebody said something hurtful to us, it’s in what we take away from those words. It’s not an incident itself, but how we relate that incident to our worth and our value, that can cause us immense grief or unbridled joy.

And then yesterday the story of this painting finally came together for me:
It’s true that sticks and stones, may break our bones.
Though some words can
wound the heart,
And others can soothe the
weary soul!

In this painting I’ve illustrated that only when we are able to rise above the quagmire of petty people spouting petty words, with serenity prayer giving us strength, and firmly believing that hope and faith will carry us through, can we move towards the golden light of divinity. I’m extremely pleased with how this has turned out, as it conveys my beliefs quite accurately.

How have certain words and expressions impacted your outlook on life? As always I’m interested in hearing from you. Stay blessed.

Creatively yours,
Rashmi