“A word once spoken can never be recalled.”
– Horace (in its original Latin: “Nescit vox missa reverti.”)
I want you to go back in time with me.
Picture as clearly as you can a time when you said or did something you totally ended up regretting.
It could be saying something hurtful to someone, pushing past the old lady in the escalator and sending her groceries tumbling down or whatever.
You probably didn’t realize how it’d end up playing out, but man did it feel good in the moment!
Then there are times you’ve been fuming over something and acted out of pure spite.
Sometimes we’re so afraid of letting ourselves get hurt that we put on our armor & raise our weapons ready to fight all comers.
I’ve uttered many ill chosen words with the intent to protect myself throughout the years.
Especially when I’ve let someone push my buttons at the wrong time. That’s when I’ve gone for the jugular.
I wouldn’t say I’m perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I’ve gotten way, way better.
We might be built like titanium but not everyone has developed the skills and knowledge that they can freely choose to not put their self-worth in the hands of others.
If we’re lucky enough to have done just that, then there’s a certain responsibility on our part to lead by example.
This means that no matter what they do, we can make the choice to not let it affect us.
Sure, it might hurt but we no longer need to act on that feeling. There’s nothing to be gained by revenge.
Except perhaps that fleeting satisfaction of taking them down a couple of notches, or 72.
Until my early 20’s I used to have this thing once or twice a year when I’d basically tell everyone, friends and family included, to go screw themselves.
A friend just a couple of minutes ago let me know that there’s even a word for it: ““.
Hm, the more you know.
Later on I figured out it was a self-preservation kind of thing.
I’m all for taking on responsibilities but when I started feeling like I had to live up to other people’s standards & expectations?
Well, I was having none of that, thank you very much!
Despite the obvious awkwardness it lead to, this gave me the opportunity to reach out and ask for forgiveness.
Also, I got to listen to people explain how my behavior and words hurt or impacted them.
Most of the time there was forgiveness to be found, at other times I’d think: “Oh, right. Now I remember. I was hurtful because the dude’s a straight up dick!”
At any rate, I didn’t really anticipate the amount of resistance you face when having to confront something like that.
Now I know the intestinal fortitude it takes to deal with the aftermath of what we’ve done.
And to anyone willing to do that, despite the risk of getting spat at, kudos to you!
One thing I’ve found that helps me is practicing the art of taking your time and breathe.
Especially in the moments when you’re prone to do say or something completely stupid.
Some of you might say: “Well isn’t that fucking precious? How the hell do we do that?”
First of all, hostile much?
Second, you know how you sometimes rehash old situations? Replaying the highlights and editing in that smart-ass comment you wish you’d said?
If you played along during the first act then you might’ve conjured up such a moment.
Revisit one of those incidents and instead of inserting a snarky remark (you can always save it for that script you’re working on), you edit in yourself being patient and figuring out how to turn the situation into something productive.
If the person is being an asshole, how about telling them how their behavior makes you feel? Maybe say something like: “How can we resolve these differences?” instead of assuming that they’re just being jerks for the hell of it?
The first step is understanding why we react the way we do when confronted with these situations.
From there we need to get the tools required to handle them.
Left is only practice. Be prepared to slip up from time to time. But little by little you’ll start to see yourself getting better at it.
You’ll get more of the results you desire and less of the ones you don’t.
Have a kick-ass ₢eative day!