by: Staci Stallings
Last time we talked about hurtful words and how they can emotionally trigger us into our default settings.
This is true, but if your default setting is hurling hurtful words back, please realize that this can cause chain reaction of trigger – default -trigger -default.
So say that someone says something ugly to you, and you say something ugly to them. What are the chances that the exchange is going to end there? Not very good.
Words create feelings (that’s why we use them). Hurt feelings create arguments which devolve into fights.
This is one reason it is so important to look at our defaults.
Let’s say that you as a parent are dealing with something with your child, and your child says something not nice to you. If you come back with something ugly to them, you’re on a one-way street to a big fight.
However, in parenting and life I have learned and am learning to be the person in the relationship that defuses rather than that lights the fuse. So if someone is mean to me, I have reworked my default setting to ratchet the situation DOWN not up.
For example, in the past I have worked with a whole school-ful of parents on an enormous fundraiser. Often there were differences of opinion about what should be done and how it should be done.
Now, years ago, this would have sent me into an emotional spiral because I could not please everyone, and occasionally, a parent will get so invested in we should do it their way that they would take potshots at me because I was kind of the “face” of the fundraiser.
What I learned to do was to not go into defensive mode (my previous default setting) or anger mode or hurt mode. I tried very hard to stay in “information only” mode.
One of the things that happens is, a lot of times we don’t feel heard, and so in order to make our point, we ratchet up the emotions so the other person will get our point.
So let’s say that there was a conflict during the fundraiser, and one family felt another family overstepped their bounds. Family #1 would come to me and say, “Family #2 did XYZ.” Where before I would think they were saying I had done a bad job because this family did something, now I listen. “Really? Okay?” I think in terms of getting the information, and sometimes this information is… “Family #1 is really mad!”
Then I would take that information and seek out more information about the situation from those who were there and from Family #2.
This allows me to have time to think and think it over and process and get more information. Yes, at some point, I would have to make a decision–sometimes about that specific instance and sometimes to put rules into place so that didn’t happen again.
Doing this is admittedly harder with my children. My two youngest just don’t always get along for whatever reason. Older one gets stressed; younger one picks a bad time to be a smertz and here we go.
In the past I have made the mistake (repeatedly if you ask the older one) of instantly yelling at the older one because the younger one got hurt in the spat. It is not easy to reset my default settings to gathering information in this situation, but I’m trying.
I think for me one of the hardest things to learn is to first do no harm–to anyone in the situation. That’s hard because my default is, “You hurt him, I want to hurt you.” But I have learned, that honestly makes things much worse.
It is far better for me to say, “You hurt him… why?” Let’s get to the roots rather than just punishing the fruit.
That works better in all situations, but I’ll be the first to admit, it is not easy.
Do you have a default of saying hurtful words when something goes out-of-control? Is your default setting giving your mouth permission to hurt others? If so, that might be something you would want to re-think and find some new default settings.