My first memory of the expression “sticks and stones” was a flawed one, regarding something Charlie Brown had said in a comic strip many years ago. I misremembered his words as: “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me!” That was his response to Lucy’s shouting, “Dolt! Fool! Simpleton!” When he answered her with the saying, she threw a stick at his head. Back in the 1800s, one of the versions was, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never break me.”
As far back as I can remember, my alteration of Charlie Brown’s statement has been, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I found that old cartoon strip online. The images from Charles Schultz’s work were early ones, probably from the mid to late 1950s. The strip said, “… names will never hurt me”, but I had replaced “names” with “words,” possibly from some other influence. I like my version. Sorry, Charlie!
I’ve used that bit of personal philosophy most of my life. The point is that no other person or group can truly offend you by what they say to you or about you unless you accept it as an insult yourself.
It’s my belief that you only become offended due to your insecurities or because you were taught to take offense at almost anything. Like Charlie Brown, I’ve always considered that someone attempting to offend me was the person with a problem, not me. I believe the other person was either lashing out, trying to feel better by spreading their own personal pain, or trying to convince me that I actually was the person they said I was.
There is another cause for offending or becoming offended. Some folks like mixing it up because they’re bored and have nothing better to do. What a waste! I won’t spend my time dwelling on them.
For those who feel offended, think of poor Charlie Brown. He was constantly being picked on, degraded, and had every nasty name in the book hurled at him. He weathered it by the simple truth that words are not physical things causing any actual harm.
The best way to remain unoffended by others is to recognize and accept all of your character traits, the good, the bad, and the ugly. If you have a pretty good assessment of those, then anything said, intended to offend, is either the ugly truth that you should’ve already made peace with or an asset, and it should be taken as a complement.
In light of that, I believe you should never seek praise from another. To do so opens the door to an unpleasant critique from those inclined to offend instead of praise. Why? Because seeking praise and approval is understood by most as a sign of insecurity and neediness. It is better to give praise than to receive it. Be happy when it is given, but never expect it, or you can set yourself up for repeated disappointment. It is more important that you are satisfied with your accomplishments yourself.
If you become offended, mentally note the full details of what just happened. In a later quiet moment, do some soul-searching about the root of your upset within. Never lay responsibility for your negative feelings on another. Only you create your mental reactions. To consider otherwise is to give power to another over you, showing them they own your emotions.
Hey, life should be joyous. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!