Sticks and stones

You remember the saying.

‘Sticks and stones will break my bones but words will never hurt me.’

Bull.

Take two letters. Address them both to your mum.

In one, write how much you love her and how you’re so grateful she raised you the way she did.

In the other write how you wish you were never born and how you spend each moment of your life wondering how you ended up with such a terrible mother.

How do you think your mother would react to each?

If she got the first one, she’d smile and give you a big hug when you next saw her.

The second one may result in breaking your mums heart and her never thinking of you the same again.

The only difference?

Words on the page. 

They don’t even have to be true. If she read them the feelings would still kick in.

And it’s likely the negative letter would have a much longer lasting effect on your mum.

Why?

Negativity bias. Or, given equal amounts of things of positive or negative nature, the negative have a much greater effect on our psychological state.

It’s the reason you remember that person who sad the bad thing about you 10-years ago.

I still remember being called fat in high school every time I look in the mirror.

There was an article I read once said you needed to win $600 to overcome the adverse effect of losing $100. In other words, you’d need 6 equally weighted positive events to counter balance a single negative event. But don’t go sending letters to your mum with this ratio.

A scratch from a stick will heal in a week. But words can last a lifetime.

Words have magic powers. That’s why they call it spelling.

They won’t break bone like stone but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful where you point your wand.