Don't Be Miserable... Just Because
Your Bad Day Doesn't Have to be Mine Too!
There is a strange phenomenon going on in the world today… this idea that people can and should say any thought that falls into their heads. Personally, I just don’t understand it. I know that I regularly talk about how we appreciate our loved ones being understanding when we are having a bad day; but we have obligations to the people we care about as well. As Acromegaly patients, we know when our body is off, and unless your friends and family are psychic, simply being in our presence does not offer any clues as to our emotional issues of the day. While our bad days can be really ugly, this does not give us license to mow through everybody in our lives, with a simple apology the next day. Remember, “sorry” is not ketchup, offering to cloak the bitter flavor or your mistakes.
Years ago, when my sister’s children were just learning to communicate, she would frequently say to them “use your words” when they had a lot on their minds, but were not sharing their thoughts effectively. This had spillover into our relationship, and occasionally I would be told the very same thing if I started to say something, but stopped because I knew it was overly negative or hurtful. While my quick wit would have offered me a moment’s catharsis, it would not have helped our relationship.
As patients, when we are communicating in person or over the phone, and we know we are having a bad day, we really need to be aware of what we say BEFORE it falls out of our mouths and into unsuspecting ears. It’s the old construction rule: measure twice, cut once. If you are thinking something driven by emotion, think before you speak. If there is any doubt of how your thought will be interpreted, either rephrase or just don’t say it! You are under no obligation to share the black cloud of your day with the people you care about simply because they should understand. There were several times when my sister would say, “use your words…” when I had several choice ones in mind and instead I would shut my mouth; mumbling that I am not speaking BECAUSE of my words. Sometimes chewing on your tongue does more to help relationships than anything else! All this being said, if you are in a relationship where the other person is constantly running you down, this does not mean you have an obligation to be their doormat. What I am saying is that NO ONE has the right to belittle another person just because they are feeling badly about themselves. Now, verbal communication is not the only communication that takes a hammering when we are not happy…
The beauty of the Internet is that you can say whatever you want, in relative anonymity… The worst part of the Internet is that you can say whatever you want, in relative anonymity. Unfortunately, the person who is reading what you are writing also has thoughts and feelings, and they do not have the ability to read your message with the same thought and tone with which you wrote it. If you wrote something jokingly, or implying some sort of sarcasm, the message probably did not connect as you had intended. Until Microsoft creates a sarcasm font, keep in mind that only about 3% of communication is actually the words we use; the rest is tone, body language, facial expressions, and pace. This is something that WE ALL need to keep in mind when communicating in written form. If you have ever had an argument based on something written in a text message, Instant Message, email, or other written communication, you know what I am talking about! When I have an important email to write where I am not happy, I will write it in my word processor, walk away, and read it again when my emotions have settled. THEN I edit as necessary. Heat of the moment has caused more problems for more good relationships than most other issues. And the Internet never forgets!
Do you have relationships that are already stressed? Intentionally causing pain to the person you are struggling with is not going to lessen that pain. If the relationship is so bad that you don’t care, then you have to make some serious decisions that might make your life better in the long-run. But if this is someone you care for and would like to continue to have in your life, think about the message you are going to convey BEFORE you have to apologize for it. At the end of the day, it will make both of your lives far happier.
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