Happiness Tip: WHAT YOU SAY MATTERS ~ Is it helpful, is it kind, and is it NECESSARY?

27 Feb


We’ve all heard the old adage “If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”  I remember being reminded of this maxim many times in my youth whilst wondering what exactly I had said that wasn’t exactly nice.  Of course children have a way of not knowing that what they are saying may be hurtful, or at the very least unnecessarily true.  We allow children to make these mistakes, but can we also be allowed to make them as adults?

I feel certain that I have made it well known to all of my friends and readers that I believe we are all placed in each other’s lives for a purpose, although we may not know what those reasons are at any given point in time… I also believe that the Universe keeps sending each of us the same lessons over and over again until we finally get the message and make a change in our lives and or our thinking (for me it’s God, but for many of you God may not be the right term, so here I’ll use the term Universe in place of God which to me is one and the same and allow you to insert whatever higher power, or force you believe exists in the world).

This week, I have been hearing the same words, or messages continually, and this repetition has prompted me to share with you, a series of lessons that I am certain I will keep building on as I grow and become more aware of my own ability to affect the world and people around me. The root of this concept is “WHAT YOU SAY MATTERS.”

In one of my most recent posts, I mentioned several lessons, which were painfully reinforced through some difficult situations, such as “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”  When expanded upon, to me this means that we each carry within us our own unique set of experiences which direct each individual in his or her actions, and subsequently shapes how we perceive the world around us (Obviously not rocket science 🙂 ).  In addition, each of us, within our own personal walls, both at home and in our minds, is dealing with our own triumphs, struggles, and perceived shortcomings.  Sometimes none of these are known to even the closest outside party… As time goes on, most of us learn to drown out the voice inside that prompts us each to compare ourselves, or possessions and positions to those around us… Sometimes though, it’s hard.  And although I don’t often lean towards jealousy or lack of confidence, sometimes it does happen, and I don’t know anyone in the world who is harder on me, than me.

This long introduction brings me to an equally long point.  Often times, when I am struggling the most with myself, I can also fall into habit of criticizing others.  This is not something I even notice that I am doing; but I come from the kind of southern stock that doles out the sobering medicine of raw truth with a pinch of pessimism or sobering reality the way a doctor writes a antibiotic prescription to the ailing patient, suggesting that the medicine really is meant to help.

Screen Shot 2013-02-26 at 10.21.12 PMHowever, not along ago, after talking to a dear friend who has seen me through so many hard times with such wonderful and insightful advise, I began to draw some interesting conclusions about the “messages” I’ve been receiving… from THE UNIVERSE… This friend told me that after all the years of self-work and inward looking, she realized at one point in the past she had fallen into a pattern of “agreement”.  That is, when a friend would talk about someone else, she wouldn’t necessarily disagree, but rather listen and nod. Often, after hearing the negative observations of the one friend about the other, she would find herself silently adopting the position of the critical friend… I’ve certainly been in this situation before and most likely will be again in the future, and I might even put one of YOU in this position against my greatest hopes…  Sometimes though, with certain people, it just seems easier to smile and nod than to put up a protest about what’s being said.

Again, I thought about some of my recent clients and friends who have talked to me about what a difficult time they are having at work or in life because one person or a group of people are talking about someone else that THEY are friends with… But what can be done? How can you keep yourself out of an argument but still be respectful of the other person or friendship?

Here are a few of the conclusions I’ve made:

Class1: When I feel the need to bad mouth someone else, and I mean really knock them (I’m a comedian by nature, so some of my humorous observations are just who I am), it’s usually because of MY OWN insecurities… That really took a lot for me to admit!

2: THINK! What YOU say matters! Here’s a reminder of what to do before you speak, I’m pretty sure we’ve all heard it before; it’s just a longer version of that same  OLD ADAGE AGAIN! First, Is what I am about to say helpful? If so, is it necessary? As in, do I really think the person NEEDS to hear what I am about to say, at least from MY standpoint?  (Listen girl, if that eyeshadow makes you look like you have black eyes, I NEED to tell you.  You don’t have to listen, or take the critique, but it’s just something I’m gonna need to do for my own belief in what friends help with… Oh yeah, and you’ve had something green in your teeth since 9am…) Finally, can my delivery of said information be KIND?  Even if you feel like screaming, you can always take a moment to find a BETTER way of saying what you need to say.  I regret that in the past I may not have paused to take my own advise, but I am using this moment to reaffirm that life and relationships will most certainly be better if I do these few things.

2.5: In the past I have said things about others out of insecurity, thank goodness it’s not that often any more (silver lining of aging? Heck yeah!)  That said, I have found it is best, especially if I am with a mutual friend, in a work setting, or in a group setting, to ask myself IS IT NECESSARY and USEFUL to say whatever the heck I feel like I need to say about another person… I mean, I can be a real stinker, if I don’t jive with someone, it can be written ALL OVER MY FACE! I need to work on this for the future, and maybe you do too!

3: IF YOU DON’T LIKE WHAT’S BEING SAID, CHANGE THE CONVERSATION! Now listen, we all have friends who never agree or disagree when we feel the need to vent about this subject or that.  Let me just say what I have learned is that more often than not, this is a tell-tell sign that the listener you have chosen IS NOT COMFORTABLE WITH WHAT YOU ARE SAYING, SO STOP! There are just some friends you can’t vent to, it’s just the truth.

Often times though, we can lead by example. If your coworker, friend, or spouse is being a Negative Nancy, then every time they bring the negative crap up, change the conversation.  I am NOT saying be an unsupportive friend, or co-worker, or spouse (bad days happen, and sometimes it’s a bad week… I’ve even had a bad YEAR before!!! Sometimes you just need an ear or a shoulder), but I am nodding to the fact that we can all get into the habit of talking about all the negative, and trust me, this can go on FOR DAYS with some people if you allow it, so CHANGE THE CONVERSATIONScreen Shot 2013-02-25 at 10.52.05 PM

If that doesn’t work, I’ll just have to tell you a quick little story… When I was even younger than I am now,  I found myself going through a very tough time, and I shared this with everyone at work.  I don’t want to say I was being intentionally being selfish, but I was devastated, and this devastation permeated my very being; I didn’t even realize how it was affecting those around me.  One day I noticed that whenever I would talk about this anguish, one specific co-worker would leave the room.  Once I realized this was happening, I went and spoke with the co-worker about it, and I acknowledged that I understood why they couldn’t hear it anymore, and that I would try to be more respectful in the future. Great lesson learned.  Thanks co-worker! Yet more proof that what you say matters!

It IS possible to train those people in your life to be MORE aware of the fact that what THEY say matters.  If you can’t do it by actually changing the conversation, or leaving the room, then I suggest using the method that would probably resolve most of the world’s problems… COMMUNICATION.  If someone is talking about someone you care about, or someone you don’t think deserves it, you don’t have to make enemies, but I do think it’s important to NOT agree inadvertently through silence.  A simple “Hmmm, what you’re saying about this person doesn’t really fit with how I view them, so if you don’t mind NOT talking about him/her around me, I would really appreciate it.” Now, if that doesn’t work, you might be screwed.

I hope those of you who read this took something valuable away for you that can be applied to your life today,  at first glance this seems like a problem for the young, but it’s not; they lied to us all when they said highschool would be the end of all of life’s drama! I have come to this truth, not on my own, but because so many of you have helped me through your stories, experiences, generosity, LEEWAY, and kindness.  If you did read it, trust that you read it for a reason, whether you know what that is yet, or not! (Wink, wink!)

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