Sticks and stones may break your bones, but sometimes they heal faster than the gash of someone else’s words–just like how the phrases “I love you” and “I hate you” have a strong emotional effect that can outweigh other words.

Whenever I argue with someone, we usually talk about our problems and tie any loose ends to avoid any more conflict in the future. However, one day while I was trying to give a loved one a special gift for their birthday, they pushed away my kindness because they were upset about something else. After I heard them tell me “I hate you,” I struggled to keep up a smile. I couldn’t focus on my work and I felt my heart physically constrict. Part of me knew they didn’t mean it, but I couldn’t seem to shake off the dejected feeling that followed.

I didn’t want the words to hurt me and I tried my best to move on. Still, they managed to cause damage because “I hate you” made me feel like the love I have for them wasn’t reciprocated. As a result, I kept my distance for a while to clear my mind and calm myself down. I couldn’t find the will to forgive them no matter how genuine I knew they really were.

With time to think and heal, I was eventually able to accept their apology. Although my relationship with this loved one is back on good terms, I still feel my heart and stomach collapse when their “I hate you” echoes in my head. That’s the after effect of harsh words–they scar to remind you of what was said.

I’ve heard people say that the way one feels is a choice. However, I disagree because words will always have an influence on one’s thoughts and emotions. We cannot control the way others make us feel, but we can control our responses to those feelings.

Even if you don’t necessarily “care” about the person hurting you, their words can still cause harm because they make us reconsider the way we perceive ourselves. Unfortunately, words hurt the most when they come from the people we trust, love or look up to because we feel like the strong connection we have with them has disappeared.

Whatever you say can make or break your relationships with others. It only takes a few seconds to hurt someone, but it can take longer to repair that damage.

Do you ever say things you do not mean?