Some things are better left unsaid (& unsent). When a nasty email landed in my inbox, it took all my strength to muster conscious communication — here’s what unfolded, plus a few tips that can help you
OUCH! That hurt.
Last week I received a nasty email in my inbox. Nope, it wasn’t like the Best Self love we usually get — and truth be told, it jarred me. Look, I’m not delusional thinking that everyone loves everything that we are producing. But hey, that’s the beauty here. Life is like a buffet — you get to pick and choose. We don’t have to consume the things we don’t like. No one can tell us to finish everything on our plate any longer.
The individual pointed out some careless typos we had made and then got personal and critical of my voice — going as far as suggesting that I change it. WOW. It felt like a double whammy, a one-two gut punch. Why the mean spirited-attack? Wrong buffet.
I was grateful for the proofreading — and mildly embarrassed by the mistakes. Let’s face it, we’re all working overtime to present ourselves to the world as buttoned up, polished and as professional as possible…but errors happen and this is a 1st world problem that can be solved with the click of a button. Revisions complete.
At the end of the day it really boiled down to the fact that it hurt my feelings. Though initially, it made me mad and defensive as a few choice words of my own nasty persuasion danced in my head. Clearly, it got my feathers ruffled. That’s why I decided to write about it here — not because I wanted vindication or validation, but rather because to some extent, I think we have all been on the receiving end of something hurtful (perhaps even on the sending end). And in these situations, there is only one thing to remember, in the words of Don Miguel Ruiz from The Four Agreements: “Don’t Take Anything Personally.”
But that’s not what the ego tells us.
WHAT? How can I not take it personally? In the heat of the moment, everything feels personal. The criticism was all about this creative baby I had birthed, my blood sweat and tears…and me. Or at least that is how it landed. But the reality is that it had nothing to do with me. This person’s demeanor was really more about her story than mine. My head understood that, but my ego fed right into it and was off to the races.
The minute I felt that pit in my stomach upon reading it, I knew I was allowing it to rain on my parade. Energy come back! It was too late — I was relinquishing my power to another in real time. I sat there witnessing it. We know when it’s happening and when our joy is slipping right through our fingers. We all have triggers that can fire off in an instant. The trick is reeling that all back in…and as fast as you can…or better yet, cutting it off at the pass, pre spiral-down.
So I ask, what would your best self do in this situation? It’s times like this that we need to pause and hold onto our sense of well-being, safety, emotional security and peace, no matter what gets slung at us.
To respond or NOT to respond:
My ego wanted to shoot off a snippy response. My heart refrained. When I shared this with my Best Self crew, they confirmed what I already knew. That kind of venom isn’t about typos and my voice — it’s about something else entirely. I decided not to respond. When you find yourself in this kind of situation, ask yourself, Will this communication bring forth peace and resolution, or incite things further? We can also choose not to respond for the sake of our own self-protection.
Judge and jury:
Before we get all high and mighty here, we’ve all likely been on the sending and/or receiving end of ugly correspondence. Have you ever pressed send on something you regretted the instant you touched the button? Have you ever responded defensively in response to something in your inbox and let your emotions get the best of you? Have you ever hidden behind the false bravado of electronic communication? Face-to-face conversations unfold in a very different manner.
The power of our words:
Whether we hide behind the anonymity of our electronic devices and communication, before we press send — simply sit with your words and ask yourself of what value are they to the world. How does this make me feel? How will it make another feel? Is there a more loving way to convey the same thing? Is this healthy dialog? Remember, apologies don’t erase emotional pollution. What’s said is said. Think of the power of your words before you put them out there. Identify your true intention and avoid unnecessary clean-up.
When opportunity knocks:
Even amidst the sting of receiving a zinger, when we feel vulnerable and rattled — there’s always a pearl to glean. Sometimes we don’t understand all of the pieces of the puzzle and sometimes that doesn’t even matter. What matters is what gift it holds for you. How could you look at this differently? What does it reveal about you, for you? Where can you go deeper with your own work, to find ways to love yourself more?
To be our best selves we need to acknowledge the truth. My truth in that moment was that I was hurt. I felt like a small girl on the playground with bruised feelings. Her anger masked her pain. It wasn’t my job to reprimand the sender of the email, it was my job to take care of me and in doing so…my heart softened, thinking the sender must have been having a really bad day. She must be hurting to. Taking care of me, put an end to the potential furthering of negative communication. There’s enough of that out there already. Always reach for that inner core of truth and you will set yourself free. And taking care of YOU, is your gift to the planet.
When they go low, we go high.
~ Michelle Obama
Is there an exchange that you want to address more consciously coming up? Please let me know in the comments below!