Tuesday, October 14, 2014

31 Days: Days 13 & 14 {On Taking it Back}

I remember plenty of times in the past when I opened my mouth and something came out that even I didn't expect.

A friend of mine calls it being "sharp-tongued."

I never meant for most of it to come out that way; it was almost like my mouth shot off before my brain had time to really process what my mouth was saying, or to think about how it would be heard and perceived.

I seem to have outgrow this atrocious lack of judgement and I'm glad for that.

Unfortunately, I think I remember EVERY SINGLE WORD I ever uttered in this manner as well as the look on the face of the other person or persons in earshot.

It's painful to remember; I know no matter how many times I've apologized, I can't take those words back.


Once they've been spoken, words can't be taken back.

Recently I've been reminded of this fact.  
Not because someone I once offended brought it up again.

No; this time, I was on the receiving end of words that can't be unsaid.
In this day and time, not much is "said" person to person, verbally, or even out loud.

That's the case for me too.
This weekend was quite the wordy weekend.  I got to read about myself -what someone else thought about me or something I'd said or done - in words on a screen.  Text messages, Facebook comments, and email.

I shed quite a few tears over some of these words.  Many of them were harsh.
MOST of them were not true.
I KNOW I'm not the person I was accused of being and that I did not do what I was accused of doing.  I'm trying to think of it as a learning opportunity.

Here's what those situations taught me:

1.) Own your words.
If you offer them up, be prepared to defend them.  If you can't, maybe they shouldn't have been said {or typed} in the first place.

2.) T.H.I.N.K before you speak.  This is something I heard of years ago and have tried to teach my children, especially Sweetpea. Before you say something, ask yourself:
Is is TRUE? {"True to me," doesn't count.  It's either true or false.}
Is it NECESSARY? {This is a hard one; I often think something NEEDS to be said, only to look back on it later and realize I shouldn't have said it.}
Is it KIND? {There's speaking the truth in love and then there's kind speech and unkind speech.}

3.) Be very careful when you share someone else's words. 
It's almost impossible to really know what someone meant when they said something.  So whether you share those words with a spouse or another involved party, be very careful because there may be fall-out.

4.) The "Delete" button is not always your friend. You think you deleted those words you regretted, but the truth is you may not have.  Recently, I realized that some {not all} Facebook notifications come through to my inbox pretty much immediately. Even if the comment is deleted by the original poster or someone else right away, the chances of it being "captured" elsewhere are great.  In my case, my email actually captured the comment that was meant for me but then deleted.  I haven't let this person know that I actually saw what he/she wrote, but it was a good reminder for me too to be careful what I say and attempt to take back.

5.) That trick your Mom used to do so she wouldn't kill you? Yeah, when you're angry, you should count to 10 (or 100) before you respond in any form.
With technology, communication has changed.  Just as it's impossible to know what someone really means with their words, it's the same with tone and inflection in emails.
In person, tone and inflection can tell you a lot about how someone feels and how it relates to what they are saying.
In print, there is no tone and inflection to give you context clues.
Because of this, it's easy to misunderstand, misconstrue, and magnify an issue that may in fact only be in your mind.

In recent years, I've become very intentional about my words because the old "sticks and stones..." rhyme isn't true.
Words CAN hurt you.

In that same time period, I've been working towards being more open, real, and transparent; trying my best to be my true self in real life, online, and otherwise.  I choose to not hide behind the word "fine" when I'm not.

So you can imagine this is a challenging balance, as are most things in life.

I certainly am not perfect with my words or word choices, but I'm trying.

I'm trying crazy hard.

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