I seldom say anything that I regret because I m just such a quiet, retiring person, so loathe to stir things up or to make my opinions known. NOT! No one who really knows me would buy that line for a second. When asked to describe me, my friends – and these are my FRIENDS, here – my friends will bandy about such terms as “bossy”, “pushy”, “opinionated”, “abrupt” even “abrasive”. God help me, they’re 100% correct.
If saying the wrong thing were like stepping in a cow pattie, most people would be able, with care and vigilance, to navigate any given pasture without so much as soiling a pinkie toe. In my case, if there were but one steaming meadow muffin in the whole of a 10-acre lot, I’d be sure to put my foot squarely in it. From whence does such a glaring fault arise in an otherwise intelligent, kind-hearted person?
Blame my upbringing. My family has always been small and unsocial. Bookish nerds for the most part. Teachers and preachers. Necessary, even valued, but not exactly anyone’s best friend. For generations we’ve made our livings telling people that we know better. Not a trait that makes one popular with the in crowd. But then we really didn’t mind because we were always off by ourselves reading any way.
But I digress. Foot in mouth disease afflicts people of all sorts. Many of my clients suffer the paralyzing guilt of having said the wrong thing and hurting people they care about. They agonize over their transgressions, shrink from their friends and family, feel they shall never be accepted again. I share their pain. Then I ask them, “So why should you be perfect?”
The only way to completely avoid saying the wrong thing is to avoid saying anything. And no, that is not an option. To go through life never expressing your thoughts, feelings and opinions is to have only half a life. And no, that is not an option! Besides, if you can’t be yourself around your friends and family, who ARE you, really?
Fortunately, there is a cure for foot in mouth disease: The one-two punch of a sincere apology and a willingness to make things right. I know it works because I practice it all the time. Yeah, it takes some guts to step up and say you were wrong, but it’s the only thing that really works. You can’t just hide out and avoid everyone for the rest of your life. Hey, you’re human! You get to make mistakes.
With age comes wisdom. I’ve (finally!) learned to be a little diplomatic. At least I don’t alienate everyone straight out of the gate as much as I used to. And something funny has happened along the way. People are now ASKING me to tell them what to do. Who da thunk it?