Many years ago at a family gathering, and young nephew was acting up and behaving obnoxiously. He seemed to intentionally do things that would annoy or anger the people around him. When I asked why, he responded “Because I’m a bad kid Uncle Pete”.
“No, you’re not.” I told him. “What you’re doing is bad. But you are not a bad kid.”
He replied “Yes I am. I really am.”
The anger that rose up inside of me in that moment was fierce. How could a young person his age believe, with such sincerity, that he was innately bad?
Turns out, it’s because those were the words he heard while growing up. Phrases like “You little brat!”. And “You’re such a monster!” were common for him. And he grew up believing them.
Words are powerful. They are important. Choose wisely.