Thursday, November 11, 2010

When words hurt

My daughter’s school is doing a special series on bullying—appropriate as another child recently took her life in what appears to be a bullying-related incident. My girl just finished a book that describes a situation in which each student had to draw a names of a fellow student, and then, after a few weeks, sit face to face with that partner and give him or her a series of compliments. The book’s title character discovered that a “mean girl” was actually very resourceful, brave and dedicated to her family.

This led to a discussion about why it is so easy to believe the negative things people say to us—those hurtful things that keep us awake at night, questioning our self-worth, rather than having faith in all the kind things people say. At age 9, my girl was already aware of this—that mean words hit harder and affect her more than all the kind words she hears every day. We spent some time talking about her positive qualities, and how to handle a bully who can only see the negative in life and in the people around him or her.

After getting my daughter in bed, the conversation stuck with me and today, as we celebrate Veterans Day in the United States, continues to touch me even more. For so many veterans, their service has been sullied by the attitudes of their fellow citizens and, sometimes, even their families. So many people seem to forget we don’t join the military because we have a vision of destroying lives; we do it because of the commitment we have to our country, for the camaraderie with our military family and, sometimes, for the money, the latter not such much but, in a failing economy, it’s a job.

So, today and every day you can, thank a veteran and know it may take lots of kind words and thanks to overcome the negativity they may have suffered over the years. Many service members (and their families) have paid prices we can never imagine in an effort to protect the freedoms we all hold so dear.

Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.

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