“As children, we all learned that classic schoolyard comeback: “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” I know as
a child, I struggled to
believe this, even while I used it to fight back against plenty of insults and put-downs.
Words caused me real pain, even if I wouldn’t admit it.
But a recent MIT study
interesting. The study said that if someone tells us that we can’t do something, – somebody else has to come along and say “you can do it, you can do it,” 17 times to
neutralize that 1 time.
So words do damage us in a very real way. They may not literally break our bones, but they do something even worse: they can break our hearts and our spirit. That negative reinforcement doesn’t just cause pain in the moment. It eventually kills our dreams if we let it.
I almost let it happen to me. When I was very little, my brother and I got taken in
by a good woman I think of as my real mother. She tried her hardest, but we often went to bed hungry.
I fell behind in school.
Pretty soon I earned the label “educable mentally retarded.”
It’s not hard to imagine what hearing those words over and over did to a little kid’s self-image.
It wasn’t till one of my
teachers told me not to let someone else’s opinion define me that I realized: I’d been letting words
destroy my spirit and my future. From that day, I stopped listening to negative
So many of us, when we share our dreams or goals with a “friend” or family
member, they tell us that we can’t do it.
– Sometimes they mean well, and want to protect us.
– Sometimes they’re
jealous of our dreams.
– Sometimes they’re afraid we’ll get too successful and they’ll “lose” us. Whatever the reason, the effect is the same.
I’d argue that negative words like these are the primary reason 99% of people never get the wealth they wish to achieve in life. They never built that business because they never got the positive reinforcement they
needed to actually believe they could do it. Without that belief, success is impossible.”- Les Brown