Do you find yourself getting mad regularly and taking it out on the people you love? Tend to say things you know you’ll regret later? Or words that aren’t really how you feel, but you say them to hurt someone because you feel hurt? Of course you don’t want to look weak, so you become the aggressor, and want to “win” the argument. You say whatever you can to hurt the other person. You don’t take crap from anyone.
But later, once your temper has died down, you kinda regret what you said. In your own way, you always say you’re sorry. Perhaps you don’t say it in words, but in actions or things you do to say it. That’s fine and dandy, and perhaps things will be better…until next time. You think that things are good again, “No harm no foul.” Perhaps the story about the fence will help you see it differently…
There once was a little boy who had a bad temper. His father gave him a bag of nails and told him that every time he lost his temper, he must hammer a nail into the fence. The first day the boy had driven 37 nails into the fence. Over the next few weeks as he learned to control his anger, the number of nails hammered daily, gradually dwindled down. He discovered it was easier to hold his temper than to drive those nails into the fence.
Finally the day came when the boy didn’t lose his temper at all. He told his father about it and the father suggested that the boy now pull out one nail for each day that he was able to hold his temper. The days passed and the young boy was finally able to tell his father that all the nails were gone.
The father took his son by the hand and led him to the fence. He said “you have done well, my son, but look at the holes in the fence. The fence will never be the same. When you say things in anger, they leave a scar just like this one.” You can put a knife in a man and draw it out. It won’t matter how many times you say I’m sorry, the wound is still there. Make sure you control your temper the next time you are tempted to say something you will regret later.
We were taught, as kids, that “sticks and stone may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” I tend to disagree. Words can definitely hurt us, especially when they’re backed by emotion from the ones we love. When we let our anger take control of our mouths, we hurt the ones that mean the most to us. And once the bullet is out of the gun, you can’t draw them back in. And when those words land, just like bullets, they can create some major damage. They can create some damage that may be very difficult to heal.
Of course time tends to heal many wounds, but the scars are still there. I encourage you to stop leaving scars on the people you love. Try to imagine the one you love covered in scars made by hundreds of tiny cuts inflicted by your words or actions. It can be tough to imagine, and you may think I’m being extreme, but those are the cuts you’re leaving on them emotionally if you find yourself constantly hurting with your words.
You can say sorry all you like, but death by a thousand cuts is a real thing. And guess what…the death of a relationship is a real thing too. Work on your temper, control your anger, and stop attacking the ones you love with your words. Sorry only works if you’re trying to make a change and moving in a better direction. Otherwise, saying sorry just feels empty.
If you think your words don’t have an impact, I’ll leave you with this quote from Maya Angelou…
“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.”