I had an mini epiphany when I was at my friend’s family watching them opening up Christmas presents. One of the gifts was a pair of boots that appeared to be a little too small.
“I can always take them back to the store to see if they come in the larger size,” she said.
That’s when it hit me- I wish it were that easy with our words. Or can it be?
How many times do you hear one kid yell to another, “You take that back,” as if someone’s insults were a pair of boots that didn’t fit. But unlike ill-fitting footwear, our words’ impact cannot be undone by sending them back to the originator. It’s not that simple… or can it be? Maybe kids are more enlightened than they get credit for.
We can make the 153Promise by selecting our words carefully so only loving supportive phrases come from our mouths. That alone is a great start. But we are human, and there are times where we will fall short and we’ll say things that just don’t fit.
You can still keep true to your 153Promise when you slip and say something hurtful. You can allow yourself to “Take Them Back” when you realize that you spoke out of anger or insensitivity.
If your kidding around went too far, you can say, “I take it back… I was only joking. I was trying to be funny, but I can see that it wasn’t kind. I’m sorry.”
Or if you had a bad day and your nerves are fried and you lash out at your son or daughter, you can say, “I take it back… I didn’t really mean to hurt your feelings with what I said. It’s just that I am really in a bad mood from something else. You don’t deserve that treatment from me. I’m sorry.”
As long as most of your behavior is certain way, I’d say the 10% rule works. If 9/10 comments you make are positive, then the 10% you make that are falling short, a heartfelt “I take it back” can work. But if you have to take back half of what you say, then the apology loses their effectiveness… as do the positive comments you actually mean.
So make your 153Promise by making sure your words fit for the occasion. And on the rare occasion they don’t, make the 153Promise to Take It Back.