When those words were spoken to me by a teacher of mine that I truly respect, they pierced my soul like a swift blade making a sharp, poignant entry. They haven’t yet made their exit as I reflect on the truth of what she said.
Once I recovered from the initial blow and embarrassment, I began to look more objectively at how I was relating to the people in my life and the effect I was having.
I noticed how unconsciously my thoughts and responses flowed from my brain, out of my mouth. Without much thought, I spoke from a reactive place, not considering how my words might impact the person to whom I am speaking. Then I wonder why their jaw has dropped, or why do I have to pick them up off the floor? Why can’t I get what I want? Why aren’t they listening to me?
The day after I began writing this, I walked into the kitchen in the morning to make a cup of coffee. My housemate was there, cooking kale and garlic and, granted it was 7:30am, but I began telling her how offensive the smell of garlic was that early in the morning and why couldn’t she cook her breakfast in the downstairs kitchen. I did not have any attention on her or how she would feel about my tirade. After the words rolled out of my mouth, I looked up at her face and I wished I could take them back and start all over again. What a way to start the day! There are so many other ways I could have handled the situation, like saying good morning first, maybe telling her that I am glad she was making a healthy meal and go downstairs myself to make my coffee. I could have stopped a minute and thought about my words before they came tumbling out.
I thought about the times I have totally disabled the men in my life by not thinking about what I was saying. One negative comment, (you want that?) even a look (furrowed brows) has turned a potential good time into a losing situation. I have learned that I do not have to say everything that I am thinking- I can afford to stop a minute -think about the words that I choose and the effect that I may have based on those choices.
As my teacher pointed out, those thoughtless moments are mean and who, after all, is pretty enough to get away with that? I have since realized those words could be spoken to all women because we all have the potential of being mean. It’s a choice we all make from moment to moment.
What choices will you make?