What "Bless Your Heart" Really Means


    
     Not exactly education related, but you never know...
     There seems to be some confusion about a phrase that's very near and dear to my heart. The phrase "Bless your heart" is a traditionally southern phrase, often used, but more often misunderstood. A number of people have told me recently they think it means a big, fat "I don't care" or worse. 
     Nothing could be further from the truth! "Bless your heart" means exactly that - the speaker is practically bestowing a blessing on you. The reason behind the blessing is almost always - almost always - one or more feelings of empathy, sympathy, kindness, concern, understanding, and compassion. 
      It's only once in a while that this beautiful phrase is used with a little less than 100% compassion. In situations where someone may be seriously whining - I mean, "my day is ruined" whining - over something completely trivial, like "They only put two shots of caramel in my latte!", then you can confidently fix them with a cold stare and say, "Well, bless your heart" before you stalk away. You have just very nicely told them you hope they get a big dose of  "There are children starving in this world - you need to get over yourself" soon.
      The only other situation is if someone commits a social faux pas and seems oblivious. These would only be minor infractions, like wearing inappropriately high heels to a job interview. "Bless her/his heart" can then mean, "Well, that's just pitiful. I hope she/he wakes up and smells the coffee soon!"
      So, now you know! "Bless your heart" is generally one of the most loving things you can say, but it has a nuanced meaning for any occasion.
    
Pat McFadyen
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