the final wordI can screw up. A lot. I’ve said and done things I’m not proud of. I’ve got regrets. And I’ve had to hear and reflect on some harsh truths in my time.

It’s so easy for me, as a writer who tries to be honest, and who writes material to encourage and help others grow, to give the impression you have all the answers.

But many of us, whether we’re writers or not, love to the have the final word. And we’ll keep on responding in discussions – online and offline – just to make sure we do.

Which, as we all know deep down, is not a healthy approach to life.

Experience has convinced me there’s a better way. Surrender.

Wanting the final word is not unusual. It’s a normal human temptation. Everyone likes to be right. And many of us like to have the last word. I’m definitely guilty of that. And it’s got me into all sorts of messes, all because I’ve not simply been able to let something go. Because someone has commented or responded in some way, and instead of leaving it, and allowing them to say what they they think, I reply.

Because I want them to understand. Because I don’t want to be misunderstood or misinterpreted.

And again, that’s a natural human response. None of us want to be misunderstood, and we want people to grasp our actual perspective, not what they believe our perspective is.

But although those are legitimate reasons, in truth, it’s unhealthy to respond to everyone. In fact it’s something we should avoid.

Brene Brown has spoken in various places of having a group of people who we give permission to tell us the truth. If we’re being an ass, or we’re being way too down on ourselves. If we succeed or fail. They will stand by us, they will love us. Because real love isn’t saying what people want to hear, it’s saying what they need to hear. And that only works with people who know us well, who we trust, and we’ve given permission to.

Any voices of criticism from anyone outside this group, don’t matter.

I’ve been on the end of negative voices several times – in fact, I’m pretty sure most of us have. Several times, I’ve allowed myself to be sucked into big discussions, trying to have the last word. And it often ended badly.

The toughest thing for me, being a people pleaser who likes to have the last word, is stepping back and not responding.

But in truth, if someone replies or reacts to something we say, we don’t have to respond. (you can tweet that)

Even if what they say gives a false impression of us. Even if we disagree with them. Even if inside, we feel we “have” to respond – we actually don’t. And in the long run, it will be much healthier all around if we don’t.

I’ve reacted in the past, and allowed myself to get wound up, anxious, stressed and having a “discussion” when you’re overwhelmed by these thoughts and emotions, isn’t a healthy thing to do. All it does is cause pain and bring regrets, often on both sides. And you can end up being the worst version of yourself, or getting unnecessarily hurt. I’ve seen this in myself, and it’s not healthy. It’s not nice. And I don’t need it – and neither do any of us.

If there is valuable, necessary criticism, then – and this is actually Biblical – it should be done one to one, privately. Not publicly, not on a blog comment or social media platform where all can see. If someone has that much of an issue with something I say, then private message me, e-mail me. Don’t do it publicly.

Don’t Give Critics Power

So, here’s the bottom line:

1) We don’t need to have the final word.

2) We aren’t obligated to listen to every single voice.

And that’s not arrogant or inward looking, it’s taking care of your heart. Our hearts are vulnerable, precious things, and need protecting.

Have your group of people, to keep you grounded, to be accountable, to offer encouragement, to tell you what you need to hear. I am lucky enough to have a group like this – you probably already have people in your life who will do this, or maybe already do this. Write those names dimagesown, and remember them.

The other voices aren’t necessary.

All you are doing by responding to all the critics, is giving them power over you. Power they don’t deserve, they shouldn’t possess, and which will only stifle your growth.

Don’t give them power. Don’t respond.

If others say encouraging, wise, supportive words, take those on board, and thank them.

But if the voices are just negative, there’s no need to respond.

Ultimately, those people aren’t interested in you.  And whilst they have a right to an opinion and to express it, you don’t have to reply to them all.

Instead, choose to surrender the right to respond. Choose to be healthy.

If we’re to be the people we’re created to be, and serve others effectively, we can’t allow ourselves to get held back. We can’t allow ourselves to be damaged by people who actually aren’t that concerned with us, and don’t know us well enough to speak criticism with authority.

I want to choose a different path.

Are you with me?

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Question for Reflection:
Do you give too many people power over your life?
Let me know in the comments below!
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(Picture Sources: WordPress / CleerCherry.com)

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James Prescott

Hi, I’m James. I live near London. I’m a fan of good food, comic-book movies, & books. I love to write, and I coach other writers & creative people. Thank you for being part of my community. read more...