Sticks and Stones

Sticks and Stones

Welcome to Mental Fitness Fridays. I’m Hans Skulstad.

Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me. 

I heard that a lot as a kid. The intent was to lessen the impact of name calling and words, when dealing with bullies.

At the risk of sticking out, I think it’s a harmful phrase. It creates and feeds mental toughness myths. Emotional pain doesn’t matter. When someone hurts you — be emotionally perfect. 

That’s harmful. Why? It means there is something wrong with us when words hurt. Just get over it.  

Its impact extends beyond just you. It gives permission to others and ourselves to say whatever we want. That damages mental fitness. And we have a lot of that in our world today. 

In “101 Essays That Will Change The Way You Think,” Brianna Wiest writes: Emotional pain is worse than physical because it’s easier to recall and hold onto.  

My work and life experience confirm this. I remember how it felt when I had a professor tell me I’ll never make more than $30,000 per year.

The mentally fit approach? Have the stones to accept that it will hurt you. Remember acceptance doesn’t mean it’s OK.

Remind yourself it’s not your job to get them to stop.  

Your job is to set emotional and physical boundaries to be empowered. Don’t be aggressive. Be direct, assertive and calm. Be specific in asking them to stop.

If they don’t, it says more about them than you. An asshole can’t be convinced they are one by you. But you can convince them you are if you lose your shit. Run your mouth. When you avoid doggy dodo it doesn’t mean you are weak, it means you don’t want to carry it and the stink with you.

The next step depends on relationships. If it’s someone you are close to, work to share and repair.

If it’s someone who believes more of the mental toughness myths, you may have limited impact.

They want attention. Direct your attention elsewhere. Eventually, their attention will turn.

If you have a hard time being direct and assertive, you may need to ask yourself a few questions. 

What buttons is this person pushing? Fairness? Helplessness? What can I do to disconnect them? What fears, wounds, or scars are they touching? 

Answering that will help you to focus on what’s happening now and not old wounds you need to let go of. 

Stick out — challenge the myths. Talk and learn about mental fitness. Share our emails and share us on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.