“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
~ Maya Angelou
Today’s inspirational quote brought to mind all those times when someone said or did something awful, and all I remember is how it made me feel. On the flip side, the same is true of fond memories filled with happiness and chicken salad. The one thing that comes through is the emotions attached to the memory, which highlights how important actions and words are.
What we say and what we do can impact others so deeply it paralyzes them. I think this is what happened with my first marriage. There was so much bad; violence, emotional abuse, and verbal attacks that it paralyzed me in a situation that was unsafe for me in every possible way. This is precisely why I do my best to be deliberate in what I say and what I do.
I consider the effects on those around me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m far from perfect and I have my moments of anger. I have moments where my emotion is so strong that things fly out of my mouth that are devastating (I never react in a physical way). Each time that happens shame washes over me.
And I should be ashamed, shouldn’t I? If what I’ve said causes emotional pain, then I have just caused harm to a person whom I supposedly love. That’s not right. Ever. And I am critically aware of this.
My penance for such unforgivable infractions is self-ridicule. Only to ensure that I don’t do it again. Not to mention, I then jump through flaming hoops to show that person how sorry that I truly am. Nevertheless, my intention is to refrain from such things so that when people remember me, they only encounter memories filled with happiness, appreciation, and love.
I try to be a better version of myself each day. Hopefully it’s working.