Friday, January 20, 2012
Is your "caps lock" on?
Have you ever received an email or had a computer conversation with someone that consisted mainly (or completely) of bold face type written letters?
Whether it was out of anger, frustration, or plain careless intent, those words sent a powerful message, didn't they?
As a recipient on the receiving end of said message, you may have felt: tongue lashed, humiliated, irritated, indignant, or seriously angry.
But more than the actual phrasing itself, the tone is probably what ticked you off most.
The "I'm making sure you know that I'm in your face" approach is always a quick way to escalate emotions and send tempers flying.
So why do it?
Here's the thing.
Some days I wake up on the wrong side of, not just my bed, but seemingly the whole wide world.
The littlest pet peeve, harmless glance, whiny tone, accidental mess, or event that does not go my way, can send me right over the edge of my already teetering sanity.
(And while PMS does affect 100% of women, using that as an excuse for moody behavior 100% of the time, is worse than the popular headache every night complaint. ) :)
So after establishing early on that my emotions are especially chaotic that day, I try remembering to ask for an extra helping of grace. Because if I don't, there's more likely than not an unseen explosive just waiting to be triggered by "my itching to fight" mindset.
Several times I've forced, literally forced, myself to put down the phone, erase an email or text, and possibly step into the other room to cool down before saying something I'll wish I hadn't. Because, in the heat of the moment, I can almost taste how good it'll feel to voice what I want; but afterwards I know regret will nag me into heavy remorse.
Hard as it is, stopping to pray in the midst of this often makes me change my planned upon course of action. I may realize I need to wait for a better time, or perhaps, not even address the issue at all. If I still feel a certain nagging in my spirit after communing with God, then that unrest is probably something worth pursuing; once I've completely calmed down.
Proverbs 15:1 says "A soft answer turns away wrath but harsh words stir up anger."
While this verse doesn't state what our answer itself should consists of, it clearly recommends that a soft one is key.
Because the tone we wield has the power to either accelerate or decelerate a turbulent situation.
We can either fight fire with fire, or cool things down by taking a more logical, understanding, approach. It doesn't mean we can't ever show anger, disappointment, etc. but we should check motivations and attitude first before engaging our, easily accessed, emotional side.
I've found that, with writing especially, things can easily get misconstrued in translation, so careful wording/tone go a long way toward how people may perceive us. You can still get a firm message across to someone without purposely angering, belittling, or putting them down.
At the end of the day, resisting the primal urge to turn on our "caps lock" defense mechanism might just be the most effective weapon in our arsenal...