Everyone has experienced regret at some point in their life over words they chose to use.
For instance, speaking out in anger is one of the most common activities to feel remorse, guilt or shame about. Giving in to gossip is another common event where words are said that end up leading to regretful feelings. Other times, sharing too much with someone, who later uses the information indiscreetly, leads to suffering. Because these circumstances are so common, it can help to keep these 5 steps to help you stop saying things you regret in mind.
1. Avoid speaking out in anger.
When you are angry, a chain reaction sets off in your body which begins with blood surging to the frontal lobe of your brain. This chemical reaction can induce emotional inebriation which will lower inhibitions. This greatly creates the risk of words being said that might cause irreparable damage.
The old rule of counting to ten can be effective if you set the intention to use that time to calm down. This gives the body's response to anger a space in which to subside. It also gives you time to collect your thoughts which will also help to avoid the risk of saying things that you will later regret.
It must be pointed out that anger is not a “bad” emotion and should not be resisted. At the same time, sitting with your anger and listening to the message it offers, before you speak about it, will allow you to gain equanimity. This will allow you to present a request for resolution in a way that won't cause harm.
2. Consider if what you say is going to add value.
“Think before you speak” is an old adage, but rarely is it followed up with exactly what you should think about before words leave your mouth. Taking time to reflect on whether what you have to say is kind, helpful or necessary are three excellent benchmarks that can help you decide if what you are tempted to say is going to add value to your relationship.
In other words, if the communication you are considering cannot be said kindly, in a helpful manner, or if it is not necessary for maintaining a good relationship, then it is probably for the best to simply let it go without saying it. At the very least, wait until you can find a kind way to communicate before you take action.
3. Avoid talking about what you do not want.
When you talk about problems, you risk coming across as a complainer. On the other hand, when you talk about what you want instead of the problem, you are taking effective steps to seek resolution in a way that will allow you to get what you really want. This type of conflict resolution will also help you avoid arguing or angry words being exchanged.
Sometimes, you may have to define the problem in order to propose solutions. If that is the case, take some time to make sure your words are “I statements” and do not sound as if you are blaming or accusing the other person. Pointing fingers, blaming and accusing puts others on the defense. If that happens it will be more difficult to reach the solution that you were hoping to gain.
4. Always err on the side of discretion.
When it comes to talking about other people when they are not around, or sharing personal information about yourself, it is time to tread very carefully. Consider if what you are saying about another person is something that you would feel comfortable saying to them or in front of them. If not, then avoid saying it.
Sharing too much about yourself or any aspect of your life to the wrong person can come back to you in ways that cause suffering for yourself and possibly others. While it is admirable to have a trusting nature, the truth is that other people may not be as conscious of respecting what you have shared. Because of this, it is best to use caution when deciding what personal information to share with those outside of your inner circle.
5. Always speak from your higher conscious.
The absolute best way to stop saying things you regret is to work on your skills of mindful living. When you are living from your True Source (Higher conscious, higher self, spirit) in the present moment, you are always assured of making wise decisions that will not harm yourself or another.
A beautiful thing happens as your mindfulness skills strengthen in that the decisions you make become for the good of yourself and others. Your words won't cause harm because you won't be coming from your ego mind that reacts from emotions such as anger or fear. That doesn't mean you will never have those emotions, only that your higher conscious will realize you no longer have a need to act out of them.
Additionally, you will be in deeper touch with your intuition and will be able to better determine if what you have to share with another is safe, or best left unsaid.
If you are a beginner at mindfulness, then it may feel as if you have to make a great deal of effort to make sure you are acting out of your higher conscious, or if it is your ego that makes you believe you are the unconscious speaker that says things that you later regret. As you continue to practice, though, it becomes natural and easy to remain in a conscious space which will make regretless communication effortless.