We have frequently heard this word during our lifetime. We have used this word to describe others, we have been on the receiving end of this word, and for most people, we have experienced both. The word STUPID is often used to describe someone who lacks intelligence, an action that is not well thought out, or a frustrating situation. For example: “That’s the stupidest thing I have heard”; “That stupid ATM just swallowed my card”; or “You must be really stupid to think that.” Below, the focus will be using this word to describe people and their actions.
Calling another person stupid is widely perceived as a condescending behaviour. This is because it shows you disapprove of what the person did or said or how they carried out a specific action. Sometimes it makes us feel better or superior. But have you ever thought about the dangers of calling someone stupid? Have you ever reflected on the fact that defining someone’s actions as stupid could have harmful effects on the person’s self-esteem? Or that it can be perceived by the recipient as, “I am not good enough”? Here are some of the ways people are affected when they are called stupid.
1. It affects the victim’s self-worth
If a person is labelled “stupid” over a prolonged period of time, at some point it starts eating at their self-worth. This is due simply because it has a negative impact on how they feel about themselves (particularly children). When this happens, they end up avoiding certain opportunities or goals they would otherwise be able to achieve. This happens because at some point, they start believing that they are not smart enough or good enough. Words have power, and when we use them, it can either build or destroy.
2. It can impact the victim’s identity
Yes, you read it right! Calling someone stupid enough times can have a devastating impact on their identity, especially when this hurtful label is assigned by a parent to a child. The sad reality is that a lot of parents still undermine the powerful effects their words have on their children. When someone is called stupid repeatedly, especially in front of other people, people tend to associate that name with the individual. What’s worse is that it can erode the victim’s self-esteem and that label will eventually become part of who they are. For instance, if someone is called stupid because of their beliefs or values, they might start to question them, and even end up compromising them. This ends up having an impact on the victim’s identity because it is made up of these same beliefs and values.
3. It can break down communication
How would you feel if the person you look up to and want to share your experience with calls you stupid? Chances are you will feel bad and that might push you to withdraw. This is how this sort of name-calling can break down communication between loved ones. No one likes to be called stupid, especially when that label is from a loved one. When that happens on a regular basis, the victim eventually stops trusting the offender and s/he becomes more careful not to say or do anything that could lead to that label. This means that he or she stops being themselves around the offender; and it ends up impeding communication between them and in some cases, destroying the relationship altogether.
4. It can be remembered for years
It is very difficult to forget how people made us feel, be it good or bad. Most of us can still remember how those bullies at school made us feel more than a decade(s) ago. This is because our brains store such assaults for evolutionary purposes – as a way to withstand similar threats in the future. Calling someone stupid, especially in public, stirs bad feelings like embarrassment and self-deprecation. Bet you wouldn’t want to be remembered by someone as a threat to their survival?
Now that we know some of the negative effects of using the word stupid. Just imagine how beneficial it would be for other people’s mental health, if we consciously chose to use the opposite word. Share your experience with others in a positive way.