Last month, someone that I’m close to said something to me and my husband that I found extremely hurtful—it was a statement about my kids that drew into question my (and my husband’s) parenting style. The words, as I heard them, hurt me to the core.
I didn’t react at the time, I just listened. I knew that I had to process the conversation and think it through on my own time. And for days afterwards, I examined the statement, and questioned whether there was validity to it and whether it would indeed have an impact on my parenting choices.
Then I got angry. And had more questions. Why did she feel the need to say what she said? What purpose did she hope to achieve? Once the anger had subsided, in came more questions. Why did I care? Does it really matter?
Finally, once I had calmed down, I was able to see that if she had known the impact of her words and how hurt and upset I was afterwards, she would not have said what she said, or she would have approached it differently. And sure enough, when I did have the chance to talk to her about it, she was extremely upset at how her words had come across. I am fortunate that we have a solid enough relationship that we could sort through this.
All has been resolved now, but I’ve been left thinking about words—about the power they hold, about how we say things, and about how words can be interpreted or misinterpreted.
I firmly believe that difficult situations hold some sort of lesson. And this has been a great reminder to examine my own words and the impact of what I say.
I have always found that the four gates of speech are amazing guidelines to live by when it comes to our interactions with others. And so I revisit them once again.
Before speaking, ask yourself this:
Because words can hurt.