If you’re like me, you wish you had a simple formula in responding to others especially during tense times. Use of these 4 words will create success that can change your life. This is critical for everyone, when tested. There was no better test for me than parenting my children. I remember a particularly stressful season with my 2 then young children when I spotted a bumper sticker that read, “Is it Wise, Kind, and Truthful?” Bingo! I had something I could remember and latch on to. But, over time, I realized I said things that just weren’t necessary to verbalize.
This happened on the flip side, too. I heard things that weren’t necessary and detracted from the intent of the conversation. So I added “…and Necessary?” My goal, now, is to have my response meet all 4 criteria. When I follow this, a lot of hurt and pain is avoided; mine and the person I’m communicating with. If what I want to say doesn’t meet all 4, I don’t open my mouth. It really is that simple.
BONUS: If someone says something particularly harsh or puzzling, just ask them, “Was that wise, kind, necessary and truthful?”
We all make mistakes. Even my totally cute, perfect friend, Jan. I don’t know when she did, but she’s a human being so I’m sure she forgot to put the butter away some time and her dog got into it. Love ya, Jan! <3 But, the other 99.999% of us have made many mistakes and some of them are big, hairy, icky, makes-you-want-to-shake-the-memory-out-of-your-head mistake. How do you get that out of your head? How do you shake that guilt, embarrassment, and yes, shame? How do you know you won’t do it, again?
As a woman of faith, I am thankful Christianity gives me the gift of grace. It’s God’s “do-over” plan. But, here’s where the rubber meets the road. Just because I was forgiven by my creator doesn’t mean I can take a pass and commit the offense over and over. I need to be remorseful and turn from committing the same crimes/sins/mistakes. Christian or not, that’s a great way to live a life. Only when we are released from that guilt and shame can we be and do our best.
If you made a BIG mistake, which sadly means usually hurting those we love, there is a formula to move on:
- Quickly ask for forgiveness from those you hurt.
- Never, never say, “because you did “y,” I did x.” That is deflecting. Also known as blaming. That’s what children do. Take responsibility for your actions, own up to your faults. This is not giving in, it’s growing up.
- Repeat your mistake, and how you hurt them, in your words. You may not have the exact words, but it shows you’re trying to understand their pain.
- Let them speak their pain regardless of how uncomfortable it makes you feel. Sit with it. Your discomfort is fairly low on the “we care” scale, at the moment. It’s part of the process.
- Empathize with them. You must feel their pain for you to grow. If you don’t feel their pain, seek counseling.
- Give those that you hurt time to heal on their time-frame, not yours. If that means getting fired, put on administrative leave, losing someone or something, or any kind of separation, accept it.
- Let those you hurt re-hash the “event” for awhile. It’s part of their recovery. But, after some time, they and you need to move on if healing is going to occur.
- Make restitution when necessary. Even if it takes the rest of your life.
- Recognize some mistakes and hurts can’t be overcome. Be prepared to lose the one(s) you hurt. This may be the lesson you need to grow and learn.
- Get help if you need it. Don’t wait for a court-mandated order or your loved one insisting on it. Take the initiative and seek professional help. This is taking action. Action is always esteemed over words.
- If the relationship continues, recognize it will be different.
- Don’t do it, again. Actions speak louder than words and memories fade more quickly if not repeated.
Blessings and Joy,