Why You Should Think Before You Speak

11/10/17

Think Before You Speak

Or Especially Before You Type..
I mentioned briefly in my ‘10 Biggest Misconceptions about Bloggers‘ post that I have learnt and am still learning, to deal with the internet and the negativity it can sometimes bring into my life. I love to discuss topics with people, I adore to hear other people’s ideas and opinions and I love even more to see well thought out discussions happening about the topics that we are passionate about.

However, like many of us online I’ve been subject to trolls, ridiculous assumptions about my mental health, financial status and more than anyone’s fair share of just down right bullying. Recently I have been thinking about how other people’s words affect us and how the people that make these assumptions, comments and remarks may not even realise the full extent of what their words really do to others. It can be so hard to step away and disassociate yourself with the words you see and hear, but for the sake of our own health, we absolutely must.

I am well aware some people are just wired to be mean and others seem to thoroughly enjoy being trolls online, but do any of these faces, hidden or not, really realise the impact that their off hand comments can make? Anyone can sit on social media and allow jealousy to take over when they compare or see the success of others. That would be the brutal way to live, when the sensible thing is to just let it go and move on. Unfollow, don’t watch and even press mute if that person doesn’t bring anything good to your life, that’s the beauty of social media.

I often try to let my anger dissipate before I reply to anything negative online, so that I can be calm and reply with kindness and understanding for both sides. As someone who chooses to put themselves online for others to view, it can be hard to accept that not everyone will like you but I do try, where appropriate of course, to deal with negativity in a calm manner. Just because that individual may have touched a nerve of mine it doesn’t need to be met with angst and anger in return. In honesty, I’ve heard it all now, so I find it easy to move past most negativity. It’s not a reflection of me, but them.

After publishing my misconceptions post, I sent it over to a friend who I knew would appreciate some of the hilarity in it, and when she called me, she asked how I manage to let things like that breeze over me now. I’m human and people’s words do still affect me, but as time goes by I have learned that often those statements have no semblance of truth nor does it really deserve a place on the internet. I thrive when others lift each other up, congratulate people on their successes and choose to be positive in a world so easily negative.

As we were chatting she reminded me of a house party we were both at years ago, where a guy whose name we can’t even remember and whose face we can’t even recall, said some awful things to her that have stuck with her. They are the sort of words that always seem to appear when she’s feeling a little low and have been hard to let go of for her. I’ve found that over time, we as humans tend to look for the negatives when we least need them and often we actually need someone else to discredit our train of thought to help us rise back up if we can’t ourselves. This friend of mine is such a happy person, one who always tries to include others and who pulls me out of a bad mood when I most need a little perspective; but even thinking that someone who is so self assured can still dwell on words spoken to her almost 6 years ago, makes me so sad.

But in truth, I too could name a handful of nasty comments I have personally received in the past. They stick with you and you can always vividly recall them at a time when you’re feeling at your most vulnerable. Altercations with ex-boyfriends, arguments with friends, words shouted at me in the street or comments made online. I remember those insults or remarks quicker than the best compliments I’ve ever received.

To think you know a person fully is one of the biggest assumptions in life. Just as I thought my strong willed friend would never be affected by something like a comment from an individual who was essentially a stranger to us, you also don’t know that your ‘banter’, as you so call it, or that statement you prefixed with ‘I love you but..’ won’t be devastating to someone that reads it. I cannot describe to you the amount of compliment sandwiches I receive on my social media that no person in their right mind would ever speak out loud to another. “I really love you but *insert hurtful comment here* but I like those shoes you’re wearing.”

We all deal with negativity and hurt in different ways, and sometimes we can’t deal with it at all. There have been times when I’ve been angry for myself or for others, but stepping back, taking that deep breath and being kind, just as you wished that person had been to you, is the perfect way to gain some perspective and teach them to be kinder in the future. Before you speak or type, remember the person on the other end of your comments is not invincible even if you have convinced yourself they are and neither do you know everything about them.

Life can be a long hard road for some and you do not know the fight someone is facing behind the scenes. Be kind. Your comment could well be the straw that breaks the camel’s back and mental health is really no joke.

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So before those words leave your lips and before that cursor hovers over that comment button, stop and think about what affect your statement will have and indeed if there is any point in saying it; other than to hurt another. Whether it comes from behind a screen or is in front of someone’s face, you don’t know that other person’s back story or what they may be struggling with at that moment in time. If the strongest of people with the thickest of skins, just like my friend, can still dwell over flippant words spoken so many years ago, the impact your momentary words could have on someone who is already suffering, could be irreversible. Please, please, please; think before you speak.

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