Have you ever regretted what you said? The angry words flow out of your mouth so fast; you wish you can draw them back in, but it is too late.
There is power in our words!
Harsh words sting our souls, causing a fracture in our relationships. What a gift we can give others if we could pause before saying what we are feeling!
Friends, reacting with hurtful words has been a struggle for me for many years. With God’s help and strength over the last 6 years, I have made tremendous progress in controlling my responses. I am still far from perfect, but I am quick to see my mistakes and repair the rupture when I do.
If this is a common struggle for you too, let me share with you these 4 steps from Levi Lusko’s new book, I Declare War; they can help you when you feel triggered and want to react with hurtful words. He recommends writing it out the first couple times, but eventually he says you can do the steps in your head.
Step 1: Analyze- write exactly what you want to say and what you are feeling. As you do this over time, you will notice some common triggers. “Every time this happens, this is how I feel, and this is what it makes me want to do.” Levi says, “The more we can understand the emotions that drive our words, the better chance we’ll have to process them before we act on them.”
Learning what triggers us is an important step in controlling our reactions.
Step 2: Extrapolate- write down what will happen if you say what you want to say. For example, “if I do this, then this will happen…” Levi says, “It’s incredibly helpful to understand the implications of a given decision before taking action.” What will their response be to my hurtful words? Will they react back in anger? What are the long-term impacts?
Understanding the trajectory of our words is a powerful step in regulating our response.
Step 3: Prioritize- write down what you really want to happen. What is your desired outcome? Do you want to feel heard? Do you want respect? I love what Lysa Terkeurst says in her book, Unglued, “Am I trying to prove I am right or am I trying to improve this relationship?” Friends you cannot do both at the same time.
Recognizing our ultimate goal is a helpful step in crafting our reply.
Step 4: Navigate- write down what you need to say to help you get to that desired outcome. “What can you do that will get you from where you are to where you want to be.” Levi says, “it will often be the opposite of whatever you started feeling like doing.” Wow- this is so true.
Knowing our initial reaction does not help us reach our desired outcome is necessary to living with no regrets.
Friends, I know this is not easy. It is hard to change, but I want you to learn from my negative experience. Reacting in anger has never helped me reach my ultimate goal. In fact, it has only caused lots of regrets and heartache along the way.
Let me encourage you to try these 4 steps. Learn to identify your triggers. Remember the importance of the pause. Memorize Proverbs 15:1. A gentle answer will drastically improve your relationships.