Damaging Dialogue

man looking at the window
Photo by: Priscilla Du Preez/Unsplash

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can  never hurt me.” We have all heard this saying many times  growing up and can probably remember quoting it to others  but has this ever felt a true statement to live by? 

When your mental health is being tested and feelings of  vulnerability, anxiety and low self-esteem are rife, words  which are meant in encouragement can be quite damaging.  There are a few expressions I feel personally (some of you  may agree) which can feel more of a hindrance than a help.  

Calm Down  

Can be used in kindness or in aggravated situations but  could cause the absolute opposite to happen; like a red rag  to a bull. Mostly said with sincere earnestness but can  sometimes feel belittling, as though you’re making a scene  when making a valid point or expressing ideas or feelings. 

Man Up  

Possibly the most damaging of all. Why tell someone who  could be struggling with anything or everything in life to  simply be told to “Man Up”? There’s so much campaigning  and support out there to encourage men particularly to  express emotion, opening up the fortress gate that’s  guarding how they’re truly feeling, only to have two little  words muttered. 

That’s it for fear of jeopardising their masculinity some men  tend to bolt up the gate and barricade it with every fibre of  their being; because that’s what it takes to be a man? In all  honesty, if you asked a woman if they thought any less of a  man who showed emotion or talked about mental health, the  answer would be no. In fact, they would respect and love  them more for it.  

As a woman, I’ve actually been told to “Man up” a couple of  times which is rather confusing and never resolved  absolutely anything!  

Living my best life 

We seem to see this saying everywhere, on social media,  on the telly, in magazines etc. At least 80% of people you’ve  never met or haven’t seen since school are doing  fantastically well for themselves. A loving partner, ladder climbing career, gorgeous house, beautiful kids, the list is  endless. 

But appearances can be deceiving! I could easily take a  picture of myself standing next to a brand new car and post  it on social media for the world to see when in fact it’s not  my car; my 15-year-old car is parked next to it. Absolute  smokescreen! Why apply envy on top of the pressure to live  your best life when you can work towards, particularly  emotionally and mentally, living a happy life.  

I once read about a film star who said in an interview that he  had cars, houses, constant flow of work coming in,  parties, the list goes on. But he came to the realisation that  although he could afford the very best life could bring him, he  wasn’t enjoying it and he wasn’t happy. And this is what we  need to remember: appearances can be deceiving. Things  can look amazing in a photo shielding a hidden issue.  

Try to avoid the pressures of comparison to others and be  happy for your own and others successes no matter how big  or small. Think to live life for me, no one else but for me.  Why? Because I deserve it!

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