Deliberate much before you say and do anything; for it will not be in your power to recall what is said or done. -Epictetus
Have you ever said something and instantly wished you could grab the words by the tail and eat them. Or, better yet, go back in time and never let the words out in the first place? Since we’re all human, we’ve all been there. It’s a downright sickening feeling when words come out of your mouth and you can’t do anything about it other than stand in the ruins.
Fortunately, for me as well as those who have to listen to me, I’m one of those people who almost always lines my words up and quickly examines them before they come out of my mouth. This practice came about because of something I call “mommy speak.” I was a “stay at home” mom to our three beautiful little girls (one of my daughters is pictured in this post). As you may know, I home-schooled each of our daughters all the way from Kindergarten to 12th grade.
That’s a lot of time spent with little people!
I quickly realized that the way I related with my girls might not be appropriate with an older crowd, so I got into the habit of examining my words before allowing them to make an appearance.
I lived in fear of telling a perfect stranger to brush her hair before someone thought she was a cave girl, or telling my husband to eat all of his vegetables if he expected any chocolate cake. While playing a board game with adults once, I was bumfuzzled when none of them knew who Snuffleupagus was. I thought, Seriously, don’t these people watch tv? I instantly wished I’d used chocolate or an UPS truck to indicate brown – but to me, Big Bird’s buddy was synonymous with brown.
I’ve heard enough people (politicians excel at it) open their mouth, THEN examine their words. Most people simply need to get into the practice of interrogating their words before allowing them out of the confines of their mouth.
Before inmates are released from prison, they have to face such an interrogation. Given the fact that words can do as much damage as a convict who’s on top of his game, it’s obvious they need to face similar inspection. A few things to ask yourself before the words come flying out:
- Will this hurt someone’s feeling? Some people seem to forget that people have feelings. Just because the speaker may be hardened, doesn’t mean everyone else is. No one deserves to have another person tear them down with words. It’s called bullying and it isn’t the least bit attractive. Even small children have feelings and unkind words can shatter them like glass.
- Am I speaking out of anger? Speaking under the influence of anger is as dangerous as driving under the influence of alcohol. Take deep breaths, calm down, then speak. It’s best for everyone, including yourself.
- Are these words for ME or THEM? Most of the time, the things we say are self-serving. A father will call his daughter’s boyfriend names to make himself feel good. He isn’t thinking of the young man, his daughter, or the rest of the family. He’s thinking of himself. His words make everyone uneasy, but none of them truly matter. He’s only thinking of himself.
- Will any good come from this? If nothing GOOD or positive will come from your words, why not just keep them to yourself?
It’s worth mentioning a special word to parents. I never cease to be amazed by how much my daughters actually remember about their childhood. Sometimes one of them will be walking or having lunch, and they’ll come up with a memory from what seems like a lifetime ago! Thanks be to God that they’re almost always positive, happy memories. The point is, kids have excellent memories and the things you say to them (even in anger) STAY with them. If you have children at home, make certain you’re giving them words you’ll want to revisit them time and time again. Because they will.
Young parents go through A LOT of crazy things in life. Many times there are job changes, moves, family drama, and so on. Just remember, don’t take it out on your children. One day, they may be all you have. Say words to them today that you’ll WANT them to repeat to you one day. Even when disciplining them, do it with love and remain calm. As adults, they’ll respect that.
Whether it’s with children or other adults, watch your words because they’re very much like boomerangs. They’ll come back to you and their sense of direction couldn’t be more accurate.
[notification type=”alert”] The Root of the Problem:
The reason people say things that’d be better left unsaid has more to do with their brain than their mouth or even their temper. People who use words as bullets generally do so because their thoughts lead them to it.
No one’s good enough to suit them, no restaurant’s up to their standards, etc. If their thoughts were a tv station it’d be ONTH: Only Negative Thoughts Here!
Every word out of our mouth has a source of origin. This source is thought.
Guard your thoughts and, in turn, you’ll guard your words.[/notification]