by Elva Patterson Rutters, RSSW
“Proceed with Caution!” Such words do not just resonate with construction sites, but are just as applicable with human interactions. Many times we spout off with little regard of how intensely we may hurt someone. That applies to both the receiver and the sender of messages. Unfortunately, a person vehemently says things that can not be retrieved even with an apology. Often the one most vocal is a victim of repeated hurt, disappointment, injustice, disillusionment, and fear. The tough demeanor is nothing more than a smoke screen. The old school yard chant of “words can’t hurt me” is a total farce. Words can damage self-esteem, authenticity, confidence and credibility.
Begin by eliminating the word “should” from your vocabulary. Replace it with- “I would like to, or If I can…” Try to soften the blow by prefacing with… “have you thought of…” or ” I am concerned…” or even “if it were me, I would…” Learn to express yourself with “I statements.” I feel… when….. No two people have the same perception or interpretation. Remember, behind anger is a fear or hurt or perhaps a combination of the two. It is not easy to decipher that fear or hurt. It takes practice. Once you can achieve the recognition of the fear or hurt, the intensity of the reaction is diminished.
Life is a highway and you are the driver. Proceed with caution! You are worth every iota of self-growth.