February 26, 2007

WORDS ARE AS POWERFUL AS STICKS AND STONES

TREATING SELF AND OTHERS WITH DIGNITY AND RESPECT

"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never harm me." Maybe not. The study of BEHAVIORAL KINESIOLOGY is showing how verbal abuse can do damage to the body like physical abuse. Verbal abuse may not leave any outward physical scars, but it could damage the body's defenses in other ways to weaken it, leading to other physical problems.

Measuring the impact of verbal abuse on the body:

Name calling is an angry behavior, and can be viewed as verbally abusive toward the intended target. Lets say we have two people standing face-to-face. One person acts as the aggressor, the other is the target of verbally abusive name calling. The job of the target is to listen to what the aggressor has to say while holding-out both arms so they are perpendicular to the floor on either side of the body. The job of the aggressor is to talk smack to the target, and to make it very personal. While the verbal rampage is happening, the aggressor reaches out with two fingers in an attempt to push-down one of the target's arms while the target resists. In most cases, the arm goes down almost immediately to illustrate the weakening of the target's physical strength during the verbal abuse. The same target is more likely to resist the pushing-down motion when there is no verbal abuse occurring.

Three rules for relationships:
THE GOLDEN RULE
THE PLATINUM RULE*
OBEY THE FIRST TWO RULES


1) The Golden rule is, DO UNTO OTHERS AS YOU WOULD HAVE THEM DO UNTO YOU.

2) The Platinum rule is, DO UNTO OTHERS AS THEY WANT TO BE DONE UNTO.

3) Choose a color, gold or platinum, and observe how the relationship commands dignity and respect!

Based on the options above, who honestly enjoys being the target of verbal abuse? It is human nature to become defensive, as a way to protect ourselves, if we are a target. There are things we can do to protect ourselves if we become a target of verbal abuse.

One way is to work on improving our self-esteem so angry words can bounce off of us. It still hurts to hear someone talk smack to us, but the person with healthy self-esteem has learned what words to accept and reject as an actual depiction of their self-concept. Another way is to learn to be assertive with angry people who express like feelings in disrespectful ways.

One way we can use words to improve our self-esteem is to use positive self-talk whenever possible. This means learning to stop verbally abusing ourselves with an internal dialogue that is negative. Positive self-talk is one way to practice self-respect.

Example:
Rather than say, "I'm stupid," after making an honest mistake, say, "I'm not happy with what I did. What can I do different the next time?"

A person working to improve their self-esteem is more likely to use positive self-talk. People with low self-esteem tend to accept the negative self-talk at face value rather than learn how to reframe it. When our self-esteem is on the road to becoming healthy, we treat ourselves with dignity and respect.

To be assertive with others who verbally abuse us means learning a communication skill called, "Verbal Judo." It involves deflecting and moving techniques as a way to sidestep the verbal abuse we hear when others feel the need to talk in a hostile manner.

For example:
Hostile Aggressor: "You idiot! What's wrong with you?"
Assertive Target: "I'm glad you can express your anger so freely (deflection), and I don't deserve being called an idiot (moving). Lets talk to each other in a civil manner, and maybe we'll get somewhere." (more moving)

[Verbally abusive people have low self-esteem and need to criticize others as one way to feel powerful or better than their target. Use positive self-talk and verbal judo to side-step the verbal assault. It's like learning how to say to an aggressor, "No matter what you say or do to me, I'm still a worthwhile person!"]

When we are assertive with others, everybody gets acknowledged and validated. If people did this all the time, I might not have a job as a counselor. People come to counseling to be acknowledged and validated because that need is not being met elsewhere. The need might be missing within a marriage, at work or how we treat ourselves. Additionally, when we incorporate either the golden or platinum rule as part of the foundation for a relationship, we are treating others with dignity and respect.

* "The Platinum Rule" is a registered trademark term by Dr. Tony Alessandra, a motivational speaker, who has granted permission for Stooltime Counseling to use it for this article. http://www.alessandra.com

Written by,
Mark S. Rogers, LPC.
Licensed Professional Counselor
(6/06)

1 comment:

Tony said...

"The Platinum Rule® is a registered trademark of Dr. Tony Alessandra."
See www.alessandra.com
See www.platinumrule.com
Listen to the MP3 for free at http://www.alessandra.com/platinumrulespeech