I SAID SOMETHING SO INJUDICIOUS (that’s code for stupid) THIS WEEK, and now feel terrible. If anyone doubts the power of our words, read on:
My friends love their adopted cat, Jack. They rented a cabin for the summer in the back woods of New Hampshire. Wife Sarah group texted me with husband Steve, showing me this photo of Jack. She wants to let him outside, but Steve is hesitant because he’s afraid Jack will get scooped up by a wild animal. Uninvited, I jumped right into the text and gave my opinion about the cat dilemma. Really Laura? How could you! That is NOT mental toughness.
I got triggered.
I was excited for them (and yep…envious), spending four months in the woods so I got a little ramped up. Also, I’ve had many cats and am very opinionated about the indoor / outdoor choice we have to make when owning one.
Not only did I give my opinion about Jack’s privileges, but I did so twice. That night in bed, I regretted what I said. They didn’t ask for my opinion. What if I caused a fight between them? I had no business stating my opinion in their affairs.
I could not retract my blabbermouth opinion. The damage was done. Once we say something we regret, we can never retrieve it. Have you ever been there? Sure, you have. It’s a horrible feeling.
My mental toughness solution:
Make a deal with yourself every morning to be aware when you get triggered. (And remember – triggers can be both good and not so good.) It could be an innocent comment from a significant other, a co-worker’s action, a neighbor’s behavior. Heck you can get triggered by your parakeet.
Once you notice you are triggered, hush up. Just listen. Don’t say or do anything until you simmer down. That could take 1 minute or 1 hour. Maybe even longer depending. Ya just need to cool off before acting.
This is the ultimate in mental toughness. Do this and you are master of your emotions.
Back to Jack: It was too late for me, so I used another important mental toughness tool: The apology. Making an amend feels so darn good afterwards. I was very honest with Sarah and Steve and said: It was not my place to share my opinion on a sensitive topic…. especially unasked. I’m sorry.
I felt such relief.
Another interesting mental toughness tip I’ll squeeze in here about apologies: The outcome is somewhat irrelevant. The other person may or may not forgive you. Sure, I apologized to keep our friendship intact, but I can’t control them. I also did it to clear my conscience, to learn and not make the same mistake again.
Words count. Words can’t be retrieved. But it feels soooo good to control our triggered emotions and to make sincere amends.
WooHoo this is some serious mental toughness today! All thanks to Jack the cat.