When the Right Words do the Wrong Things

Are you ready for a little bit of honesty?
Here’s what people will tell you not to say. Here are the things people will tell you not to think, yet we think them. We feel them. We hear our thoughts as an internal voice and our thoughts are real.
Our thoughts may not be accurate but in the moment, our thoughts are as real as you or me.
Perhaps, this is why they say perception is not true. But instead, our perception is only true to us.

People will say that you have to trust in the process. Ever hear this before?
People say that things always seem to have a way of working themselves out.
For example, there was a common suggestion that says, “You have to give time, time,” as if to mean that healing is a process and that the process takes time.
Nothing is ever instant. Nothing happens when we want it to. This is life. Or, at least, this is a majority of our important life.

Answers and understanding take time. Life takes time and, of course, it takes time to learn or gain experience.
Nobody walks into a job and knows everything on the first day. No matter how experienced or seasoned a person is, experience takes time and so do adjustments and change.

Think back to the first day of anything special like, maybe a first day at a new job. For whatever reason, the natives seemed awfully hostile. Or, maybe we can go back to the first day at school.
Let’s go back to the first time we experienced an unfamiliar source of discomfort. Or, we can go to a moment when we were out of our element. We were out of our comfort zone. Or, we were on our own and suddenly, we were unsure what to say or what to do.

Think of a moment in your life when you relate to heartache or emotional pain. Think of the questions you asked yourself or the hurt you felt. At the time, the pain seemed like it was unending.
Think about a loss or a moment that puts shame in your heart. What were your thoughts in the middle of your discomfort or despair? Or, wait, this one is better . . . consider your thoughts about someone who came along to tell you “not to worry” and that “everything will work itself out in the end.”
Really?

I can remember the first time I felt the foolishness of a poorly addressed relationship. I can remember the betrayal that I’d learned about. But more, I recall the absolutely crushing experience of hurt and the belief that it was me who was the idiot.
Someone came along and told me, “It wasn’t meant to be.” and as the words left this person’s mouth, I remember thinking to myself, “No shit?”

It has always amazed me that regardless of our intention, words can literally ruin a moment or make things worse.
And it’s true.
People look for the right things to say. People look for solutions but no one understands that there are no right words. There are times when there is no solution.
At the moment, all there is are emotions.
Nothing that anyone will say can or will heal a broken heart. In fact, the most helpful thing when someone is in crisis is rather than take their feelings away acknowledge what they think or feel. Let them speak. Let them voice it.
Telling a person, “Don’t think that way,” or saying “You can’t think like that” is not always helpful.
The same is said about a person who hears voices. Arguing with them about the reality of the voices are not going to take them away. In fact, this will only make things worse.

Here it is, the uncomfortable part.
Here comes the uncomfortable conversation with someone experiencing an emotional crisis. The truth is people have thoughts and feelings.
The best thing to do is let someone talk. Let them speak. Acknowledge them. Rather than try to redirect them – let them say what they have to say. Listen and listen good. Otherwise, the conversation can take an awkward turn or move aggressively. And then what?

There was a talk I had with someone who told me they were done and that they wanted to end it all. They wanted to kill themselves.
I didn’t tell them what to do nor did I say what not to do. Instead, I told them – I get it. I answered them honestly. I get it – because I do get it. There are times when life is like this monstrous uphill battle and this can seem like it’s always like this, all the time.
There are times when you reach as hard as you can and no matter how hard you try; it seems like you only come so close but you never get what you want.

Moments come when panic or anxiety set in and honestly, it seems like everyone is in on the joke. The person who drives in front of you is slowing down just to spite you. Someone took the last cup of coffee in the office (on purpose) without refilling the water in the machine just to piss you off.
People in your life seem to trip your process (or maybe I should say progress) and no matter how close you come to something you thought was about to happen, it seems there’s an opposition or an opposite side that gets in your way. It seems like Murphy’s law is real. And I mean relentlessly real.

We have moments of disappointment. We have moments where coworkers make moves in spite of our best interest. We have opposition. We have competition which is a true battle because whether our competition is internal or external, there are ideas in our head that may distract our thought process. Our emotions take over. Life becomes insurmountable and we become uncomfortable and inconsolable. 

And what happens next?
You have someone who means well (and we know that they mean well) and they come up to us and say something like, “Don’t worry. The universe has a plan for you.”
I have been told God has a plan for me.
I was told that I have to keep plugging and keep moving.
I have been told all of these things and I have been told them all at the worst time.

I sat across from a person who never dared to write a book or dared to open himself to the public yet he was telling me about my journals and laughed at me.
He put me down. He degraded me at a table with other members of my work life.
This is happened. Although anyone who cares would suggest, “Don’t listen,” my response to this is it’s easy to tell someone “Don’t listen.” It’s easy to tell a person “you have to let that go,” when meanwhile; it ain’t yours to let go of in the first place. Know what I mean?

It’s easy to tell someone “don’t worry” when it’s not your worry.
So . . .
Perhaps our ideas to find the right things to say are more counterproductive than we realize.

I don’t want to worry. Yet I do.
No one wants to hurt or be afraid yet life does not come with rubber cushions or a safety harness. In fact, life comes with sharp edges and low-hanging objects that knock us off of our feet.
Life comes with bumps and bruises and in times when we get hit, the last thing we need is someone to come along and ask, “Did that hurt?

Mom used to tell me, “Nobody ever promised you a rose garden.” And Mom was right. No one ever said living was easy. No one ever said anything worthwhile comes automatically and of course, no one ever guarantees the fun will last forever.
A good friend of mine once told me about a prayer he would say. In all fairness, I wasn’t much for prayer at the time. In fact, I wasn’t much for anything at the time.

He told me:
Lord, take me where you want me to go.
Let me meet who you want me to meet.
Tell me what to say
And keep me out of your way.

This was a good man. He was a friend to me and perhaps at the time, Father Mike was a best friend to me. I say this because he knew where I was and what I was thinking.
Maybe it was his hand on my shoulder. Or wait, maybe it was the fact that he chose to sit with me and spend time with me.
He didn’t tell me what to do or what to think. Instead, he spent most of the time trying to learn more and understand. He didn’t preach. He just cared.
I appreciated this.

Father Mike is gone now. He died as casualty #0001 on 9/11.
Perhaps I should take a lesson from him.

Maybe I need to listen better. Maybe as much as my love is and although my heart can mean everything – if I’m not listening, then I am doing both my heart and my love a disservice, which means that sometimes: I owe an apology.
Maybe we both do. Maybe we all do.
Or, maybe we can just agree that hey, let’s go where we have to go. Let’s meet who we have to meet and for the moment, let’s stay out of each other’s way. Just for now. Just until we can see things clearly and get back to the life we want to live.

And lastly, I notice that we grow frustrated when we can’t fix things. This is not specific to gender or any singular person.
I know this from when I was a child. I know this because I watched The Old Man yell at a lawnmower for most of a Sunday afternoon. I know this because I watched someone yell, punch, kick and scream at a soda machine for taking their dollar.
We are all people. We have thoughts and opinions and feelings. Neither of us are a soda machine or a lawnmower. But sometimes we come with challenges. And oftentimes, we are not at our best.

Yelling doesn’t help. I know this because no matter how much The Old Man yelled, the lawnmower still didn’t work. And screaming, kicking and punching doesn’t help either. As a matter of fact, that person lost their battle to the soda machine. They hurt themselves worse than they hurt the soda machine. That’s for sure. And . . . to top it off, the soda machine still kept their dollar!

Once, I was hungry and all I had on me was a dollar.
I went to one of those snack machines that turn and push out bags of chips or snacks.
Ever see one of those?
I was literally having the worst day ever. All I wanted was my snack. I put my dollar in. Made my purchase and the little spiraling metal pushed my snack forward – and guess what? The snack was caught and never fell down.
I shook the machine, trying to free my snack and then suddenly, a coworker of mine comes in and says, “I guess it wasn’t meant to be.
Really?

I swear to God . . .
I could have killed him.

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