Archive for October, 2015

How Do You Re-Stuff a Bean Bag Chair?

October 6, 2015

A few years ago, I decided to relive my days of yore and I bought a couple of bean bag chairs. As you know, they are stuffed with those tiny little squishy Styrofoam balls that stick to everything if they escape from the zippered lining. If they ever get out, it’s impossible to round them all up and herd them back to where they belong. The slightest breeze carries them into corners and they become like little magnets, attaching themselves to skin, hair, clothes and any animals that happen to be within a mile!

The point is, if they get loose, there is no hope of collecting them all because they are carried to parts unknown. You can never re-stuff a bean bag chair and restore it to its original condition.

I recently facilitated a relationship workshop in which we were discussing what happens when you say snarky things and hurt someone. Many people suggested that you just apologize and all is well. Others brought up the point that apologies don’t always make all of the hurt go away because angry words can sting and their impact isn’t easily forgotten. Some in that workshop said that they are still affected by things that were said to them years ago.

That made me think about the crazy little balls in my bean bag chair and how you can chase them ‘til the cows come home, but you won’t ever get them all back. Words can be kind of like those little Styrofoam pieces. You can try to retrieve them all but some are going to stick to the person you hurt and possibly be carried for a long time. And if you gossip about someone, other people may carry those words and spread them.

You may be sorry that you ever opened that zippered chair and let  that stuffing out, but that doesn’t change the fact that you did and and the chair will never be quite the same. And you may be sorry that you let the nasty words fly out of your mouth, but that doesn’t change the fact that someone may still be carrying them around and they will never be quite the same.

We all say mean things at times and regret them soon afterwards. Of course, we apologize and hope that our words haven’t made a lasting impression on the injured party. But every person is like a piece of delicate rice paper and our words leave a permanent mark on that paper.

The message here is that we need to think before we speak unkindly. We may just throw out words in an angry fit and then be over it, but the recipient of those words may not recover so quickly and may hold onto that hurt for quite a while. So be aware of the danger in spewing angry words….and never unzip a bean bag.

Linda Henley-Smith is an author, speaker and coach. Visit her website at