Lately, I'm beginning to believe we speak primarily to hear ourselves talk. We find humor in our comments. Or excuse our boldness in the pursuit of truth. "I'm just telling it like it is." OR, "Well that dress IS ugly." OR "He did gain weight. I just pointed it out." Right. And your intention was . . .?
Why do we believe it's okay to blurt out whatever's on our mind, offering our unvarnished — generally unsolicited — truth to friends, family and strangers alike? I'm not suggesting we lie. But there is such a thing as politeness. And keeping our mouths shut. Case in point: my sister, Karen, seven years younger, with the thick golden hair we all wanted. Staying slender seems to come natural. Her smile lights up a room. From the outside, life seemed easy and she seemed graced. But the outside doesn't tell the whole story. Karen went through a real rough patch a few years ago: a divorce, lack of meaningful employment, three kids adjusting to a new lifestyle. Throw in some emotional and physical challenges and she crashed for a bit. Actually for a long bit. Her hair lost its shine, her skin its glow. Under doctor's care, she was given prescriptions to help her over the hump. And that brings me to the point of this story: Karen was picking up one of those prescriptions at CVS where she'd gone for years, the first time she'd personally picked one up in a long time. She gave her name, waited for the small package of pills and the pharmacy assistant looked at her and said, "What happened to you? You used to be so pretty."
What happened to you? A bit personal, don't you think? You used to be so pretty? Kinda' harsh, don't you think? And totally uncalled for.
Want to make somebody crumble? Want to make someone turn inward just at the point they were taking a step outward? Want to tell that cancer patient, or heart attack victim, or emotionally fragile person, "you used to look so good," and expect what? To feel justified for expressing a truth? Stop and breathe twice for every sentence you're about to blurt out. Ask: Is it kind? Is it helpful? Is it necessary? Would she want me to saunter up one day and acknowledge how she's become heavier over the years, her backside wider than it once was?
When we offer our truths, let's think first about our intention. Is it to hurt? I suspect not. Is it to exert power, to have the upper hand? Possibly. Or is it because we simply engage our mouth without thinking? We don't even imagine the consequences of our flip remarks.
Time to think about our intentions. Wouldn't it be a far better world if we all intended to affirm others, to help them feel better, not worse. In the end, I guarantee we'd feel better about ourselves. I know I would. — ps
Welcome to Pat's Place
This is the kind of place I'm lucky enough to enjoy every day, a place to think and write and talk with friends. I hope you'll join me here often, posting on my posts, letting me know what you think, what you believe, what makes you laugh or smile or cry. What makes you angry. Let's share thoughts, rant at the world's randomness, explore issues like karma, destiny and past lives, and literary ones, like what we're reading and how in the world writers create conflict in fiction. It's all up for grabs. So, what's on your mind? Post comments.
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