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Sticks and Stones

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Have you ever had your feelings hurt? Chances are that if you're alive and over the age of 5, you have had someone hurt your feelings. Sometimes it's not a big deal and you move on with your day. Other times it's more dramatic.

As silly as it may sound, the old nursery rhyme"sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never harm me" isn't entirely true. Many people take offense and turn them into life long grudges. Words and actions are powerful.

There are a lot of questions that you should ask yourself if you feel like someone has mortally offended you. How is it affecting you? In most cases, people that are offended change their attitudes and actions. Often times, we do it out of spite or to teach some the offender a lesson. It doesn't change them it changes us.

A friend of mine had his in-laws visiting from out of town; his wife and two children were excited for the visit. The trip was going well, till the second day when her mother made the comment: "There's never any food around the house, so I thought I'd help out."

As you can imagine, that didn't go over well, though in fact the statement was correct. My friend's wife rarely cooked, they ate out most nights and when there was a meal in the house, it was usually something simple. The point is that offensive comments can often be true; it's been my experience that those tend to be the most offensive of all.

She retaliated to the comment, and it's been a fight ever since. There is rivalry among peers, parents, and friends. Even coworkers and employers can fall into this. Any one you spend a lot of time with is potentially going to offend you at some point.

I'd like to be able to tell you how to make it so people will stop offending you, but it's not possible. Like I always say, the only thing you can control 100 percent of the time is you. There is no way to change others; all you can do is change the way you react to them.

How do we take the world we live in, exist in that world and not allow ourselves to be offended or feel judged? Since there's no way to please everyone and you'll always have critics, here's three tricks to getting over what people say and do.

1. Don't take it personal. He (or she) who takes offense where none is intended is a fool. I often will hear something some one says and I will automatically psychoanalyze the statement and look for ways to apply it to myself. It's natural to be self-conscious and self aware, but like all good things, too much is too much.

Like my father used to tell me when I was a small boy, "the world does not revolve around you." He was right -- don't take it personal, it's probably not directed at you personally.

2. Think about it. Is it true? Now that you have some of the paranoia relieved, some comments are directly aimed at you, your actions, personality and groups you identify with. Think about it before you react. Having the courage to cross-examine your self is not easy. It takes a truly open mind to look at yourself objectively.

3. Forgive. The power of forgiveness is a miracle you can live everyday. When we forgive others for their trespasses against us, whether perceived or actual, we touch the human soul. In most cases the one we touch is our own.

Gandhi said that the weak could never forgive and that forgiveness is an attribute of the strong. Be big, Gandhi was and is right. Be strong, the power to forgive is in you.

As I go through my life, I recognize my imperfections. I choose to write about things that I have learned in my short time on this earth. Most of which, unfortunately, have been through experience. I have made two lifetimes worth of mistakes. I have offended people and I have been dumb enough to let others offend me.

You are the only person with the power to control yourself. Being you is more than just your favorite color or your favorite food, it's about becoming the person you are capable of being. Creating the real you can be a life-long journey.

People will always say hurtful things, some intentional, and some of it true. You can't control others -- you can only control you.

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