I have a real problem with my mouth. I have let sarcasm and a biting tone creep into too many of my responses recently…especially when directed at my loved ones; my kids, my husband, and occasionally my friends.
I am not proud of it.
It has become bad enough for me to inwardly cringe as I hear the nasty tone fly from my mouth and crash into their hearts. The words I say are not the problem (in fact, the words themselves are often benign), but the delivery is loaded with anger, frustration, and resentment. Don’t get me wrong – I am not walking around like a rage-filled lunatic (ahem)…
but negative-toned responses have become more normal than they should be and it is NOT OK. My family deserves better than to be lashed by my tongue on a regular basis.
In the spirit of “keeping it real'” I am going to offer a few examples:
Last night my husband asked me a simple question about why I had turned on a light in the family room as we were about to go to bed. I have no idea why, but I felt exasperated by that question. Shouldn’t he know that I am looking for my purse? DUH. I answered his question with that very tone in my voice and immediately saw his reaction become negative towards me. How could it not? We reap what we sow, and I had just sown negativity into his life. He called me on it, right then, but I didn’t budge…outwardly. Internally, I knew he was right. I also knew that in spite of planning to write this post today, I was not really working toward my own goal to be better with my tone. Ugh.
How often am I causing his heart to be negative toward me with my negative tone, when I should be sowing love and nurturing in our relationship? I also wonder how much the *way* we speak to each other causes general strife in our marriages/intimate relationships. My guess would be a lot. How many of us would weather relationship storms better if we hadn’t already weakened our foundation with stupid things like choice of words and tone? It’s definitely something for me to think about.
Another example is less specific, but happens a lot more often with my kids. I am pretty busy. Homeschooling three kids and holding down three part time jobs teaching or tutoring others. Plus we are a one car family. It gets hectic. When I finally have a few minutes to myself, I deeply resent the intrusion of my kids with their random (sometimes total nonsense) questions and comments. I snap answers at them, or let out a heavy, exasperated sigh. Sometimes, I am just downright mean. How sad.
It will only be a matter of time before they stop asking me silly, child-like questions and stop sharing their thoughts with me. Why would they? It is so apparent that I have better things to do and that they are bothering me! It breaks my heart when I really own it and realize the effect I am having. Hurricane Becky, coming through.
I have no definite solution for fixing this. I admit that. What I have going for me right now is awareness and acknowledgment. I own that this has become a problem, and they say the first step to recovery is admitting your problem. Done.
What I plan to do is get over my ego and apologize the minute I recognize it.
Apologizing is really hard for me. I don’t like to be wrong, and even when backed into the corner and confronted, I will get defensive. So recognizing my tone in the moment, stopping what I am doing right then, and apologizing is my primary step. I will also plan to take a breath and begin again, with an appropriate tone.
I have asked my family to help me with this. I asked my husband and my kids to tell me when my tone is harsh, mean, or frustrated. I am depending on them to keep me honest and work with me to make this change. I need it; so do they. I am hoping in a few months that we will all be breathing easier, enjoying a happier home, and each other’s company more. Wish me luck!