PG's Tips for Survival at the RHN

SIDNEY LEARNS ABOUT 'Sticks and Stones' - Coping with Insults

'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.' Sidney remembered the familiar words used by children in playgrounds throughout his early school days. It was the saying most used to combat insults, diffuse playground 'aggro' and generally restore the child's own self-dignity.

Did, or does, it work? Can you really ignore the insults? They are often so freely - and usually unthinkingly - lashed out. Even the person with the thickest skin is bound to be affected by them, though they themselves may not be the target! It is a foolish (or perhaps wise) person who is not affected in some way. Sidney recognized that he was influenced by what people thought about him - well, some people. Others he had learnt, weren't worth worrying about.

'Our man' was used to insults being handed out liberally, criticizing anyone who was a bit different from the 'norm'. But which of us is normal? When all is said and done, it is impossible to say that any of us are normal. Just look around any group - and you'll notice a vast difference in types of people.

More and more, Sidney wondered why? Why did people insult others? Was it through a feeling of inferiority or superiority? Enough of this playing at the amateur psychologist. He would stick to his own experiences - as the giver and receiver of insults. Goodness knows how many he had given out over the years. He preferred the sarcastic type of insult - not at all pleasant, and something for which he wasn't at all proud. That was when he was feeling superior. Then there the occasions when he would simply reply with a self-defensive type, like 'Well you're not so wonderful yourself.'

If only we could really listen to the words of Martin Luther King: 'I have a dream ...that one day my little children may be judged by the content of their character, not the colour of their skin.'

Written by Peter Gow
February 2001

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