Years ago, when I was a teacher, another teacher in the lunch room was showing off her carefully prepared veggie dish that she was very proud of making. At that age, I wasn’t concerned with eating healthy. In my head, I was thinking “wow, that’s way too healthy for me!” What came out of my mouth was, “That looks gross!”
Oops. As soon as the words left my lips, I knew I hurt her feelings. I felt terrible. She was so proud of her new dedication to cooking and eating healthy. I had deflated her with 3 little words. I apologized later in the day and explained what I was really thinking but the damage was done.
I could tell you multiple stories throughout my years. I like to think these moments are happening less frequently as I’ve aged and grown in wisdom. But, I still have those unfortunate moments.
There was this one time that I told my husband I was “at my best” when we first met 24 years ago. Yes, I really said that.
He took it to mean that since I met him, my life has gone down hill. I don’t blame him. It sounded pretty bad.
The thinking in my head, which I tried to explain, was that during that time in my life, I felt confident and had big dreams. I had adventures and did things that weren’t always practical but they enriched my life. I missed that about myself.
As I’ve lived life, I have grown more insecure in my abilities; abilities as a wife who gives enough to her husband; abilities as a mother who gives her kids enough love, attention, encouragement and life-skill training; abilities as an entrepreneur who can provide life changing material for her clients; abilities to be a good friend when I am so busy trying to deal with my own life.
I overthink and over worry. In wanting the best for everyone I love, I stifle my own confidence by questioning everything I do.
In more recent years, I tend to find reasons why not to do something for the sake of practicality or convenience. Overtime, this has made me feel disempowered and frankly, dull.
These worries and concerns are pretty normal for most people but when you have anxiety, stories build in your head and it’s easy to go to a place in your mind that tells you that you are not enough. It’s overwhelming to even be clear about what you want out of life and it’s even more challenging to figure out how to get there.
During the time that I suggested I was at my best, I had a naive innocence about what life could be like and I miss that about myself. A lot has happened that has caused me to lose my sense of adventure and dream big. This is all about me, not my husband, family or other relationships.
I let life weigh me down.
This wasn’t anyone’s fault but my own. I certainly could have chosen otherwise, had a better attitude and way of dealing with life’s struggles and disappointments. Getting back to that place of wonder, excitement and possibility became my new goal.
Recognizing that I had a problem was actually a really important step in getting to the place that I want to be. Fortunately, I have a husband who is confident in our relationship and knows my lack of tact at times. He may tease from time to time about the statement I made but I don’t think any permanent damage was done. I’m working on being a better communicator, not oversharing and thinking before I speak. I mess up sometimes and need to give myself grace.
Have you done this type of thing? Does your mind rethink the situation 100 times a day? Do you beat yourself up for being so insensitive? Do you avoid the other person and let it affect your relationship?
First, you are not alone. Clearly, I am right there with you, sister. We all mess up and say stupid things that we regret. What we do with that experience is what is going to dictate the outcome of the situation. Are we going to learn and grow or shrink into our heads and engage in negative self-talk?
Here are a few things to do to help you through those times when words and thoughts pour out in a way that is not productive:
1. Acknowledge your mistake. Knowing you made one is a huge step in correcting it.
2. Take a deep breath. Think about what you really want to say. What are you feeling? Maybe instead of anger, you are actually feeling hurt. Maybe, like in my story, instead of disappointment in the other person or situation, you are actually disappointed in yourself.
2. Don’t react to their reaction. Get clear on what you want to really say before you say another word. Come back to the conversation later if you need to.
4. Apologize. Ultimately, you are responsible for the words you speak and how they come out so if you hurt someone’s feelings, say you are sorry.
5. Don’t dwell on the situation. When you have anxiety, it is easy to spin out of control with your thoughts and worries. If you did steps 1-4, you’ve done your best to set the situation right. After that, chalk it up as a learning experience and pay attention to the lessons you take away for it. Don’t spin into the destructive cycle of negative self-talk.
Forgive yourself and trust that the other person will forgive you (be understanding if it takes time). The most important thing is to move on and don’t let your anxiety keep you stuck. Give yourself grace and keep working to improve each day.
As for myself, I am dreaming again and as a family, we have determined we need to get out and experience life more so we can all grow in our confidence and engage in all the world has to offer us!
Do you have your own foot-in-mouth story to share? Please type it it in the comments below so we can all learn from each other. Also, please share this post with anyone you think may benefit from it.