One of my friends had a significant birthday coming up and a couple of weeks before the day her boss stopped by her desk. "I see you're retiring next week," she said. "What do you want as a leaving party?"
My friend was devastated! She loved her job and had never thought of retiring – but with one comment, that boss had brought a large part of her world tumbling about her ears.
We have all been hurt by insensitive comments; I know I have. Yet, very often, these comments are not meant maliciously: they are just what occurs to the speaker and are voiced without any agenda other than straight communication.
Then, there's the other side. You probably know someone who always seems to take everything the wrong way. In my family we say, they don't just take offense: they take a gate too!
Occasionally, these two people are the same: they can dish out the blunt comments but cannot take them. Because they can lash out with their tongues, we tend to think carefully before saying anything. Usually, we say nothing at all; swallow those words, and feel them turn bitter inside.
One of the most common causes of upset and distress is undelivered communication.
Perhaps this is not you; perhaps you are good at straight talk. Perhaps you are mature enough to know that we are all responsible for our own reactions and how other people react to our words is their own business. I suspect not, however. I think most people who suffer with depression are sensitive; more easily hurt than many, and desperately anxious to avoid hurting others.
It doesn't mean we don't hurt others. I know that my own words and actions have, on occasion, been the cause of great pain and I am deeply sorry for it.
Sometimes, however, things need to be said; communication needs to happen. Relationships can get stuck, resentment builds up and, when the dam of suppressed anger is breached, a destructive torrent of words can pour out. Words, once spoken, can never be recalled and the damage to that relationship might not be repairable.
I was talking to a friend recently about a situation where I am reluctant to say anything because I fear incurring a negative reaction. I feel frustrated and blocked in a whole area of my life because of that fear. My friend told me bluntly to get over myself and not allow my own power to be vanquished by imagined dragons.
"Can this person physically hurt you? Can this person destroy you financially, or cause your friends to desert you? No? Then, why allow the prospect of their words put you in chains?"
My friend is right. Communication needs to happen, and words must be spoken. Hopefully with more kindness and sensitivity than that boss used, but with the clear intent of full understanding.
Here's me, drawing a deep breath, squaring my shoulders and preparing to speak.
How do you deal with this sort of thing? Let me know.
A Moodscope member.