Death by criticism

A meditation on sticks, stones and words

Harsh criticism and real communication have this in common:

Both are about nakedness.

And yet, they are fundamentally different.

Communication is you in charge.

You in the presence of someone else (or even a group), but taking off your clothes yourself, perhaps because they ask, but most importantly, because you want to.

You take them off, and maybe you’re still afraid of what they’ll say or think, but deep down you know it’s okay.

You’re naked, but you’re not cold and shivering, because it’s warm.

It’s warm because you know they care for you and won’t judge you by your scars and wounds, your failures and your brokenness.

And it’s not that they don’t see those things, and that’s the beauty of it: not that they don’t see, but that they do.

The difference is they don’t see scars on a person, they see a person with scars, but a person who’s more than those scars.

They become your mirror, and you see yourself more clearly in their eyes.

But good mirrors are hard to find.

And criticism?

Well, it involves glass too.

But no reflective glass, this. No, nothing so gentle. And what reflection there is in split in a hundred pieces of shattered glass.

Because this glass is destructive: cutting you open, tearing your flesh apart, creating new wounds and reopening old ones.

Yes, you’re naked, but this time you’re out in the cold, exposed, shivering, miserable…


This time, you see, you weren’t asked if you wanted to take your clothes off yet. You’re not in charge and what you want doesn’t matter.

And why should it? You’ve been…


Sticks and stones may break our bones, but it’s words that really kill us.

What will you use your words for today?

Published by Doc Ayomide

I’m a medical doctor with specialty training in psychiatry, and I love thinking and writing about what it means to be human.

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