Posted by: Shara | April 28, 2011

Make Someone’s Day Better

My elder son came to me one day, extremely upset about a toy that had somehow been broken, though none of us knew how this came to be. “I don’t know what happened; did your brother touch it?” I asked my son. His three-year old little brother heard me ask that question, and, too late, I realized how sensitive someone can be to the way we speak.

My younger son came right over to me, shaking his head and pointing to himself, saying, “I not touch! I no break! Not me!” I felt badly that he overheard me, because I was not actually accusing him of anything. I was trying to figure out what had happened and gather the facts. His poor little, crumpled-up face told me that he was feeling accused of something unrightfully. My son felt the need to defend himself because he thought that I saw him in a negative light. I had to reassure him, tell him that I believed him, and that he was fine and not in trouble.

We never know when the words we use will hurt another. Often, we do not see the results of what we have said. We do not even see the results of what we do, most of the time. It can be hard to gauge someone else’s reaction. I thought about barbed wire, and the comparisons between it and our words.

Barbed Wire forms a protective ring around something that someone views as valuable. Anything on the inside is safe. That which is unfortunate enough to be on the outside will be caused much harm if it tries to get in. Those sharp points need to be avoided. On the converse side of this “fence,” it can keep dangerous animals or prisoners locked in a place, and keep those on the outside, who are not dangerous, safe.

Each of us is like the barbed wire. We can act and speak in ways that either help protect other people’s feelings, or we can do them harm with our sharp and pointy barbs. We need to remember to be the good part of the barbed wire, caring about others and watching out for them in the things that we do. To test my theory by finding out others’ reactions, I gave this object lesson to my Cub Scouts. It was meant to help them understand that every action they take, every word that they use, will affect someone else. The choice that they have is whether it will do harm or cause a positive reaction. They very solemnly promised to think about the barbed wire when speaking.

The strong effects of words on children if surely true, as they can be greatly affected by every word said to them. I also believe that it is true for adults. I am not saying that adults are overly sensitive; I am saying that even when I get yelled at in the office, because the boss was having a bad day due to his argument with his wife, I am not immune to having negative emotion spewed at me. Smile, and I will do anything eagerly. Growl at me, and I walk away grumbling, too.

Now I try to remember, as I go through my day, that I have the chance to make someone else’s day better. I have to take it!

 

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