Sticks and stones are easier

We’re writers, we know that words hurt. But they also hurt ourselves. Take a look at this:

Remember the childhood rhyme, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me?” It sounds optimistic, but it’s actually not true.

According to neuroscientists and brain communication researchers, words can do damage. In fact, negative words release chemicals in your brain that cause stress. Angry words send alarm messages through the brain that shut down logic and reasoning centers. Our minds are hardwired to worry.

But it gets worse. Just like that horror movie where the babysitter discovers the killer is calling from inside the house, some of the most damaging words are the ones we tell ourselves.

“Self-esteem is a word-based inner dialogue going on in your brain,” says Mark Robert Waldman, coauthor of Words Can Change Your Brain (Penguin Group, 2013).

How 60 Seconds And One Word A Day Can Reduce Your Stress – Stephanie Vozza, Fast Company (28 July 2014)

Read the full piece.

Must do better

If you had to criticise someone, you’d probably use what’s called the criticism sandwich. “That was an excellent idea, admittedly the execution was unbelievably amateur and I wish we’d hired someone else, anybody else, but you know, you typed it up beautifully.” That kind of thing. But when you’re criticising yourself, you don’t look for any bread to wrap it up in.

Sometimes you refuse to eat the baloney in the middle and sometimes you wish you’d started this with a more robust analogy that could stand any chance of lasting the distance.

So I could’ve chosen my analogy better but let me take that criticism and change it to how I’d address anyone else being as slack with their writing. “We got the point you were making, you made it clear and obvious, but you should really have got out of Dodge at the end of the first paragraph.”

Incidentally, usually I’d be saying to myself that: “I bollocksed-up that, didn’t I?”

You can see the difference, can’t you? It’s not that one is positive and one is negative, it’s that one is third- and one is first-person. From the Wall Street Journal:

When people think of themselves as another person, “it allows them to give themselves objective, helpful feedback,” says Ethan Kross, associate professor of psychology and director of the Self-Control and Emotion Laboratory at the University of Michigan.

‘Self Talk’: When Talking to Yourself, the Way You Do It Makes a Difference – Wall Street Journal (5 May 2014)

That’s from a piece that is laden with sports analogies that I can barely understand but it’s a persuasive point. And I thought it was persuasive or I wouldn’t be here telling you about the full feature, but telling you made a difference. I look at this and in particular I look at the way I usually criticise myself. I wanted to find an example of how I usually am compared to how this lot say I should be and that searching, that thinking, fixed it in my head more. It’s like you’ve told me to lighten up and I’m listening to you. So thanks.