We all say things in the heat of the moment that we regret later. You can’t take back hurtful words once they’re spoken. It’s impossible. Once the hurtful words leave your mouth, they linger in the mind of the person they were directed at. Maybe you were responding to something you felt was a wrong directed at you. Maybe you felt as if you needed to express some feelings that you’ve bottled up and your words came out harsher than you intended. The hard, cold truth is that once they’ve been spoken, they can’t be unspoken.
You can apologize for the harsh, hurtful words. The person they were directed at may forgive you, or they may hold a grudge for a while. Apologize regardless of the likely outcome. There is a saying that people are their most honest when drunk or angry. I know from personal experience that this isn’t true. When I’m angry, I’m not very honest. I usually know the person I’m angry at well enough to know exactly what to say to hurt them the most because my inner mean girl doesn’t like to lose a fight. And when I’m drunk, I tend to not get very angry, but I’ve told a tall tale or two while under the influence, and have known several that have shared false stories while intoxicated.
The take away from this is that regardless of what was done, and regardless of how angry you were at the time, if you speak hurtful words to someone else, apologize for it. In fact, apologize for even fighting with them in the first place. A conversation that can’t be had in a civil matter, despite our human nature to engage in heated discussion and escalate to something that can become damaging to other people should not be held. If you can’t have the conversation in a civil manner, don’t have it. Walk away from the issue.
Just tonight, I struggled with my inner mean girl myself. I’ve had a recent issue of my Facebook account being hacked by an unknown source. I have my security settings applied so that a code must be obtained directly through my phone in order to log in to my Facebook account because of previous privacy issues. Tonight was a second attempt. I was annoyed by the nuisance of having to stop what I was doing (networking for an advocacy group on Facebook for stronger protocols in schools to better protect children, Protect Our Children NC) to log back into Facebook, change my password and I responded by posting a mean spirited post insulting the would-be hacker’s intelligence and really speaking my mind on the subject. While the actual action didn’t anger me at all, I have a lot going for me right now, a mild nuisance drove me into my not so old behavior patterns and I responded in a non-civil manner.
This was completely uncalled for on my behalf. I deleted the mean spirited post a few minutes later and readdressed the situation by stating that I am praying for the person that continues to try to gain access to my account that they find peace in their own life and a healthier hobby, but the hurtful words were out there, even if only for a short time, for all the world to see. If the person that was trying to hack into my Facebook is struggling with anything in their life, I’ve done damage that could send them into a further downward spiral that can’t be undone. I did issue an apology for the mean spirited post, and I hope that the words in the latter post are taken to heart and that the person trying to gain access to my account finds something that matters and makes it important to them, but I now have to live with the hurtful words I put out first.
“There are three things in life you can never get back: The stone after it’s thrown, the word after it’s spoken, and the moment after it’s passed.”
So, going forward, please remember that apologies may not be a cure-all, but they can go a long way in ensuring reparation in damaged spirits of someone you’ve wronged… even if they wronged you first.