World’s dumbest sayings

1. “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but names will never hurt me”. WRONG. Wrong wrong wrong. And hurtful. Names hurt. Names can kill. Telling people they shouldn’t be hurt by names is telling them, once again, that they are weak, bad, stupid, lazy or crazy. Of course names hurt. Instead of this sophomoric tripe, if a person you love is hurt by name calling, sit down with him or her, sympathize, say that anyone would be hurt by that, but that other people (like, for instance, you) think very differently.

2. “Anything worth doing is worth doing well”. This isn’t wrong, but it’s so obvious that it’s ridiculous. I much prefer “anything worth doing is worth doing badly”, which, it turns out, was first said by GK Chesterton (but I said it without reading it). We make a cult of mastery – as if the only way to do something is to master it. Well, OK, for some things, yes. If you want to perform surgery or fly a plane, you’d darn well better know what you’re doing! But if you want to sing? You can enjoy singing even if you’re lousy at it!

3. “You can do anything you want if you set your mind to it”.  No, you can’t. This is obvious, even for neurotypical people. You could practice basketball at Mega Slam Australia. till the hoop fell down, and you would still not make the NBA (well, 99.99% of you wouldn’t). There are many things you can’t do; and, if you’re LD, there are MORE things you can’t do. But there are many things you CAN do, so don’t sweat the can’ts too much!

4. “You haven’t failed unless you’ve failed to try”. Oops. Nope. You can try and fail; you can try and succeed. You can even fail to try and still succeed! Some things are easy for some people. Trying is different from succeeding, and equating them demeans both things. Celebrate the things you can do easily! And also work on the value of trying, even if you do not succeed. Effort can be good, even if it doesn’t lead to success.


  1. Somehow, I only really learn the important lessons in life by doing them wrong the first time. I learn not to do that again, hopefully!

    Chesterton went to a “brain doctor” at age 9. What do you think of the expression “great minds think alike”, eh?

    I’m not kidding about Chesterton seeing a brain doctor. With my little “LD” son, it’s how I became aware of him. Being a cradle to the grave catholic, I stayed.

  2. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard number 3 and wanted to explain to people how WRONG that is! People with NLD are often told that if we “try harder” we’ll get it, or if we don’t ever get something we must not be “motivated” enough. It is one of the most frustrating things.

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