When any of us get criticized, insulted, abused, or gossiped about…it can be difficult to not take it personally. I mean, we’re all human. Pieces of that treatment penetrates, whether you want it to or not. Especially when it comes from the people you care about most. Your closest friends, your family, your parents, your boyfriend/girlfriend. And, sure, the pain goes away and it heals and we all move on with our lives. But…

Do you ever wonder whether or not some of that verbal ‘punishment’ lasts longer than we’re aware of?

There was a quote that says that “The soil accepts all seeds, whether they be flowers or they be weeds.” Meaning, some of those past pains of mistreatment and heartache may still be affecting you somehow, whether you’re aware of it or not. Do you believe that such a thing is true? Might you still be haunted by demons from your past? Do they affect your behavior, or pop up every time you look at yourself in the mirror? Is there a certain nerve that someone could grind you and trigger a truly angry or violent response?

Or…can you deal with all of your past transgressions and be done with them, once and for all? Is it possible to heal, and start all over from scratch, with nothing holding you back?

A bit of challenging question for this time around. Long answers are welcome. Anonymous answers also welcome at Comicality@shackoutback.net if you get any ideas!

Talk to you soon!

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“I tend to hold grudges. And if someone’s got a history of gossiping, or abusing my friendship in some other way, I’m quick to expel those people out of my life, completely.

I don’t have time for the drama. I don’t need it.

But for those who I know generally care about me, and my life is better off with them in it, I’m quick to move on, if we’ve had a falling out, or whatever, once we’ve worked it out.

I’ve just found that, in my own experience, those people are outnumbered by those who are users, or who would stab you in the back for something small.

I don’t have the time or space for people like that in my life, which is why I keep my social circle pretty small and tight.

The people I have in my life, are really worth it. Even if I don’t have dozens of friends or relatives that I keep in regular contact with. I used to live like that, and I found myself constantly dragged into someone else’s drama. Being used, or dragged into something. Gossiped about or judged.

Whereas now, my life’s quieter, but largely stress-free. πŸ™‚ ” – Mike


“It might have taken a very long time for me to realize it, or to mature beyond it…but I honestly think that it was this website, the chatroom, the message boards, the emails…that has become the catalyst to teach me what I needed to know about the voices in my head, and how to beat them.

It’s strange, I know. But it’s the truth. Writing my true feelings out in my stories created this constant habit of looking inward and doing a lot of soul searching to value parts of myself that I should be proud of, and accepting the parts of myself that are flawed, but still have a conscience about. It helps to keep me in check.

There was a time that negative comments used to really bother me. They used to hurt me to my very core, and I’d fight, tooth and nail, to defend myself like a wounded animal because I refused to be made a victim or allow myself to ever be abused again. But I’m not that person anymore. That part of me no longer exists. And it’s liberating. That’s not to say that I don’t have disagreements or even arguments with other people…but the effect on me isn’t the same. Anybody who would go out of their way to attack, bully, or deliberately HURT me…for any reason? I just shake my head. Shrug my shoulders. I feel bad for them. I really do. It’s a state of mind that deserves nothing more from me than a true feeling of pity. Who does that? What do they get out of it? You know?

I sometimes study some of the fundamentals of certain philosophies or religions, and there’s a part of Scientology that actually really fascinated me. I’ve kind of adopted it into my way of thinking. (Not the alien, volcano, ghost Thetan, stuff! Hehehe, but this one principal) Basically, when you’re ‘audited’…they ask you to describe a time in your life that caused you some pain or distress. You have to explain it out loud, in words, and share it with the auditor. Then…you have to do it again. And then again. Every time you go in, you add more details and really get to the heart of that particular moment of your life, until you properly deal with it. ou actually get to address that problematic part of your life repeatedly until it ceases to have any power over you. I thought that was a really cool practice to indulge in. And, without even knowing it, that’s what I’ve been doing with my stories from the very beginning. I got to live out all of those fantasies that I was too scared to indulge in when I was a teen. I got to express my feelings about the abuse I suffered through, or the heartbreak I felt, or the excitement I had during those first few awkward attempts and looking for love. So writing was my therapy…and all of those bad voices in my head were muffled to the point where they just don’t bother me anymore. Other people? I know who my friends are. My standards are pretty low when it comes to me considering someone a good friend. Treat me right, keep in contact, support me every now and then…and I’ll kiss the ground you walk on. I’m not hard to impress.

But, if you’re a toxic person? If all you’ve got for me is insults and demands and bullshit backhanded comments? Yeah, I’d rather spend time with people who actually give a shit about me. If it seems like a ‘chore’ for you to treat me like a cherished part of your life…then save your energy. I’m not interested. If you have to bite your tongue to not say something awful to me? Fuck off. Again. I’m not interested. Because those words really do stick. They sink into places of your life and it takes time and healing to get rid of them.

There are still times when I make mistakes or forget to do something, and I can hear my father’s voice in my head telling me what an idiot I am and how I should be ashamed for being so stupid. But I recognize it for what it is, and I know how to silence that voice and fix things to make them as awesome as I possibly can. No more tears. Never again. I don’t hold grudges, but I have the insight to know when I need to stay away from the kind of people who only want to use me, abuse me, or are jealous of me. That’s their problem, not mine. And I’m not going to add the weight of their problems on my shoulders. I have my own.

Do words hurt? Yes. Most definitely. Do they linger? Only if you’re too scared to go back and deal with the impact that they’ve had on you in the past. Can you heal and start over from scratch? Hmmm…should you? I can say that I’ve healed, and I’ve learned, but I won’t pretend that those things never happened. They did. I just won’t allow them to affect me anymore. If anything, they make me stronger. Instead of letting them create a hateful image of myself…I use them to show everyone around me how easy it is to prove the voices wrong. Effortless. I am SO thankful and SO happy these days! There’s freedom in letting go. And that’s exactly what I did. I let it go.” – Comicality


“I’m a person who lives in the present. I plan for the future, but I don’t worry about “maybes” or “what ifs”. Those things are out of anyone’s control. I might reminisce about past memories, but I don’t dwell on mistakes or regrets. Spending all of your time feeling bad about things that already happened is pointless. You can’t go back and change what happened, but you can certainly learn from it, and make wiser decision based on those experiences. I try to deal with each situation as it comes, and adapt my approach to solve problems in the here and now.” – Page Scrawler


“‘Long answers are welcome.’ – I hope you were sure about that. πŸ˜‰

Well, there is definitely always some of the β€žverbal punishment” lingering around. After all, what happens to us is a crucial part of our person and changes us. I mean, of course we are in some way also more, but everything that happens to us affects us and becomes a part of us.

Now there are of course very different levels of impact.

I think the soil metaphor is really something you can work with. We are like that soil, more or less accepting every seed. But on the one hand some things are just stones to us, that have no real prospect of growing. And if you are a cold climate tropical plants have no real chance to grow as well. And you can come as a gardener to your own soil and try to exterminate all weed. But of course it is hard to find everything and pull out every root properly. Also if there is already a full grown tree, you won’t be able to simply pull him out. You will need some help there.

I think many people don’t realize the extent of consequences their words can have. You need to be careful what you say. On the other hand most things you say do not matter too much. It is not worth to stop talking or always only choose words that try to be nice. After all a bit of spice usually improves the conversation. There just should remain some level of awareness.

And of course that is especially true, if you are special to someone. No one can hurt you as deep as the ones you love. Idols have a pretty important function here, too. Even small things they say about you can have a big impact. That often makes it a bit difficult for celebrities, because hardcore fans will remember and care about everything the celebrity said to them. And even silence can have big meaning and impact – can be even more devastating – so that there is often no way around it.

In general I think it is important to take into account the good and the bad. It is exactly the same for positive comments and statements about us. Depending on the topic and context they can stay with us, change us and have a big impact.

And it always can go both ways. Comments that were meant nice can be devastating and malice comments can make us a better person.

(Btw: (short digression) It’s an interesting question what is more frequent. I am pretty sure that nice comments having positive and malice comments having negative impact is more present, but there are examples for the opposite quite often, too. You shouldn’t simplify issues like that too much, but I bet some of the really arrogant people out there, that sadly actually exist, got a few well meant friendly comments too much, while some people were motivated to great and good things partly to prove wrong earlier comments of hate. In any way I definitely urge you to prefer the use of nice comments, because I strongly believe that that is better. And although not all people understand that, friendly criticism is a nice comment, too.)

Additionally to the person also the formulation and the topic count. The words of a stranger usually are not going to have a huge impact on you. But if he starts talking about a topic that is sensitive to you what he said about it may stay with you. Also formulation and the meaning, that are two attributes you can’t always separate well (so I will just not try to) in this context, can be crucial. It can just strike something deep in you.

And I would say about all of these three key ingredients (author, topic and formulation/meaning of the message) that one alone usually can make a conversation important, so that it influences you.
(That being said there usually is more than one component working together.)

-If you only talk with your absolute idol once in your lifetime, then you will probably remember every word he said to you and even more the ones he said about you.

-If you are really sensitive to a certain topic, the things that get said about it usually will stay with you for a while.

-It is not easy to create something that has big influence on people and can change them just by using formulation and meaning (especially because topic is also always mixed up a bit in it, too), but you definitely can find some words and stories out there that moved many people without necassarily being from a famous person.

Another thing that you can’t ignore is the amount of conversation about the context.

-If you would start to live with your idol and talk with him all the time, then not every word would be important to you. It would just get important again if you would start to talk about a topic you never have talked about before. (If you have a best friend and talk with him all the time, then you do not care about every single word as well.)

But if your best friend was always quiet about how he thinks of your family and then says something about it, then that can be huge. Especially if you find something in his formulation/meaning that is striking you as recognizable. After that you may look at a certain family member or your family in a different way.

-And no matter how sensitive the topic is to you – if you talked about the topic for hours with different people (let’s make it a hundred here as clear example) then the opinion of on stranger will not really matter to you.

On the other hand not talking about something at all can easily make it a sensitive topic.

(You usually can see that effect well on some teenagers that were being held away from anything sex related.) In general you can see that at how important and memorizable first times are in many context. Of course there still has to be a relevance of the topic. Never talking about something does not necassarily make it sensitive.

Note: Not remembering does not always mean having no impact. Some parts of our memory always fade away, but the first time we hear about something usually has impact on our view of it. (Occasionally more than we realize.)
That being sad influences also do not mean “set in stone”. If you heard something bad about a group of people that might make you hate them for 5 years. You could overcome that and love them after 10 years, because what you heard was wrong. The words still made you hate them for 5 years and therefore had quiet an influence on you. (That influence was just overcome by other influences that decreased it’s impact. So the sentence ‘There was a big important experience back then that really influenced me, but it’s not really part of who I am now. “could make a lot of sense and describe some situations well. Although a small (maybe really small) thing would usually remain in some way.)

Another great example for sensitive made topics can be appearance and beauty for some people. If your natural beauty is all everybody talks about, a single statement will not be that important to you (except from a really important person :D, but I will ignore those possible exceptions from now on). But if you never really get comments on your looks, then a stranger telling you “you look nice” or “you look beautiful” could be a memorizable event. And if that would happen a few times, then that could change your personality (for example by a major confidence boost) a bit (and every single time would already have an effect).

I would definitely remember someone telling me “you are beautiful” for quite some time.

Our society developed in a way that made such statements usually rarely actually said in my experience, although often thought. But of course the real beautiful people do not need to hear it the whole time. Nevertheless it is something you can bring people easily great joy with – if you let those that do not hear it that often know that you see beauty in their appearance – and there are some really beautiful persons that actually just never got to hear it. I mean, don’t make them all arrogant, but sometimes it is nice to let them know.

-And if you hear the same meaning over and over again, maybe in slightly different formulations, then at some point not every single time will be important for you. You will just be like “I know, I know. Of course that’s true.” But sometimes the first time you really hear a message/meaning in the right way can have an uncredible great impact. Some people turn around their whole lifes after such occasions (although usually there are other reasons involved, too).

The amount is btw something where I think that the limits of representation in the soil metaphor are reached. (Although you maybe could say things like if many seeds land in a similar place one is less likely to become a big plant, but at that point it begins to get far fetched.)

It does not cover all aspects of the topic, but there definitely is truth in it, especially regarding the context it was introduced in.

So there can be really different levels of impact. And I would definitely say that all things have impact on some level, but if the impact is or becomes small enough, then you can neglect it.

As indicated by the word becomes, the impact on our personality can change.

There can clearly be impacts that stay with us for the rest of our lifes. Unfortunately some people that get told prejudices (for example about gay people) in their childhood are never really able to remove that.

But there also are many examples, when the impact is fading or just overcome by new other impacts.

I think that in theory there is the possibility to deal with all your past transgressions. Then their impact can become relative low and you could start all over. But that is something you would need to work really hard and wait a while for. Because every time you are severely wounded, some kind scar remains. And it needs a long time until a scar is not visible (or detectable). Some scars may heal over time to that point, but many don’t. (Soyou would probably end up still feeling some consequences of past transgressions.)

After all, our past is what really made us the person we are. And where something really important and big happened in our life usually always remains something special. If you have ever lost someone really important to you, that will never really go away. Especially in that way, that you will always be able to understand the losses of others in some way.

But of course we can change the way the topic affects us. And that’s in my opinion mostly what healing is about. It’s not about pretending that the experience never happened to you or to completely wipe it from your mind. It’s about not being affected in a negative way by it and maybe even get some good out of it.

Many topics will never get really positive – losing an important person is always terrible and will remain sad, but you don’t need to fall into a depression every time you hear about it. Again that’s mostly what dealing is about in my opinion and it’s always different. Dealing with a loss can be devastating for some and just a minor hurdle for others. Those others may have more problems in dealing with mobbing or abuse experiences. Everyone needs to go their own way.

However, while it rarely goes away time usually changes it into a smaller factor.

Usually of course means that there are exceptions and it isn’t the time that really causes it, but with time sometimes other influences may come that overcome the past ones.

If you lose as child a grandparent that you really liked, but only saw a few times a year, then that already may change you and be an important experience. However, twenty years later it’s usually not important on the same level anymore due to minor other influences. And when one of your parents dies, that probably has been closer to you, then that experiences will replace much of the impact your grandparents death had on you. There probably is still some of it left though. And something as important as the loss of a loved one (be it parent, lover or really close friend) can stay with you forever with an impact that may only lower slowly.

And since I used a few non-verbal examples here, I will say explicitly: I think that the impact of words or β€žverbal punishments” can be quite the same as the ones of actions or other forms of experiences. Of course you do not often find verbal impacts on the level of the loss of a loved one, but there is no fundamental difference in structure.

And while the average impact by verbal punishment may be lower than the ones of extreme actions, it is dangerous that some people are not aware of how much it can cause. Especially by high frequencies. If someone important to you tells you something day after day after day after day, that often can have a higher impact than any particular action.
There are many examples of this. Mobbing and systematic exclusion from groups is another and does not even need to be physically stated to have a devastating impact.

But while there are less extreme examples for that, same goes for the positive effects that we should not forget. We should not single out the negative side. And being reassured and soothed by a loved one that tells you you are a wonderful person and more, can be such a powerful thing and slowly compensate negative verbal punishments over time although it usually needs some time to do that (and it doesn’t mean it will ever go away completely).

And yes, there are almost always some issues left open that affect your behaviour and pop up from time to time. That is perfectly natural and all right. And some of them may be only caused by verbal expressions, others maybe reinforced by them, some caused by other experiences and many by some kind of combination.

Issues does not mean that they are in a state that should/needs to change. It just means they might show up in one form or another. I mean, it’s okay not to want to talk about every topic. And things like abuse or the loss of people are always sensitive in one way or another in our society, even when they are not sensitive in particular to a present person.

As I explained with regards to dealing with it, that the issues might be showing is not bad. The question is how they show. You would have to behave in some way anyway and if that way is influenced by more knowledge about a topic or more empathy with a certain group of people, then that actually can be a pretty good thing.

But I definitely think that you can find many cases out there where you could trigger a worse reaction.
However that really strongly depends on the person. I think that there are also many cases you could get people to actually get violent by grinding and triggering.

But I would think for instance that you would have a hard time trying to get me to be violent. Simply because violence would not really be in my box of tools on reacting to something like that.

Some people already react to simple insults – without much bad context – with violence on some occasions, you could trigger them to be violent.

But I do think that you can get unexpected reactions outof many people if you drill deep enough with your comments.
If you try really hard and find the right topic you might be able to get an unexpected outcome from me, too. Although I think that would for me still be other ways than violence. I mean, people do not always what they think they would do in that situation, but I’m pretty certain I would just take it really personal and – depending on the level the person overstepped their obvious boundaries – just lower our relationship – in the worst case the person would be dead to me.
(Although I might go to court if he starts to spread lies or inappropriate half truths, but that usually is already way different from pressing on an issue and triggering.)

On the other hand I couldn’t really be angry, if the person couldn’t know it and did not ignore anything obvious. Then I would probably be a bit sad and just eat it up.

But that was just a bit of speculation on my possible reactions.

There really is a wide field of possible reactions. Really sad are those possible situations when someone reacts on the outside mostly by getting quiet and the other person goes on and on drilling deeper and triggering without even realizing what they are doing.

I wonder what would happen if you would go on and on about Comicality’s eyes. XD

That probably is another (concluding) prime example of the effects of verbal expressions – I’m pretty sure nobody drilled into his eyes or really touched them otherwise. Just people talking – and it weren’t even insults as far as I know.
But it’s nothing he would ever need to worry about, because everybody has some topics like this – it’s not a necassarily bad thing. If anything it adds a bit of character in my opinion.

(As long as your reactions to it are not too bad. Going rambo after some weird comment of a person or similar things are never really good.)

And I almost asked myself if I would be brave enough to do that eye-thing to Cosmicality (that means intentional tries to trigger), but then I realized, while for some others that may be a question of stupid bravery, for me that would never really be an option, because to leave the issues of other people alone if they ask you to, is for me just something about respect that should be natural to everyone. Although just a little bit of forcing can help when a person should deal with something and is just not dealing with it. But forcing alone usually is not the solution there.

And a little bit of banter about some of the things can be a really nice thing, too. You just really should try to be aware of your boundaries there (and in general) which can be a difficult thing.

(And btw: Comicality,
if you read this, sorry for including your eyes. Please don’t come for me! ::makes a scared face::)

To summarize: There can definitely be a big impact by verbal expressions.
(And it does often lasts longer than we are aware of.)

This really depends on the combination author, topic and formulation/meaning of the message.
Frequency can also reinforce effects. But there are both sides of effects, negative ones as well as positive ones.
So be aware of the impact your words can have on some people. Care a bit about what you say, but don’t let it affect your behaviour too much otherwise. That it can, doesn’t mean it does all the time.
Common sense and a bit of empathy usually is enough. Just really be aware of it and do not completely turn off your brain.

Hope you had fun reading. I’m sorry if some parts bored you. If you never hear from me again, Comicality probably came for me. ;)” – Who4m1

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If you guys ever want to add your two cents to any one of the ‘Q & A’ sessions for future issues of Imagine Magazine, we’d LOVE to hear your input and your personal stories on the forum! Feel free to attach your screen name, or do so anonymously! Drop by “The Shack Out Back” forum on the 1st of every month for a brand new topic of conversation! We look forward to hearing more from you! πŸ™‚


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