Growth 7 min read

You Can't Unring a Bell

Practicing mindful speech will save you from saying something you can't take back.

Think​ ​back​ ​to​ ​a​ ​time​ ​when​ ​you​ ​were​ ​hurt. 
Did​ ​you​ ​get​ ​an​ ​apology​ ​from​ ​the​ ​person​ ​who​ ​wronged​ ​you​ ​with​ ​their​ ​words?  
If​ ​you​ ​did,​ ​you​ ​likely​ ​still​ ​carry​ ​the​ ​scars​ ​of​ ​that​ ​wound.​ ​​Apologizing​ ​is​ ​important​ ​for​ ​repairing​ ​an injured​ ​relationship​​ ​but​ ​the​ ​truth​ ​is​ ​that​ ​a​ ​sorry​ ​does​ ​not​ ​always​ ​take​ ​away​ ​the​ ​pain.  
As​ ​the​ ​saying​ ​goes,​ ​you​ ​can’t​ ​unring​ ​a​ ​bell.  
How​ ​can​ ​we​ ​avoid​ ​ringing​ ​the​ ​bell?​ ​The​ ​best​ ​way​ ​to​ ​do​ ​so​ ​is​ ​to​ ​watch​ ​what​ ​you​ ​say,​ ​especially​ ​in times​ ​of​ ​distress,​ ​to​ ​avoid​ ​harming​ ​others.​ ​To​ ​do​ ​this,​ ​you​ ​must​ ​practice​ ​mindful​ ​communication.  
Mindful​ ​communication​ ​is​ ​the​ ​practice​ ​of​ ​being​ ​fully​ ​aware​ ​of​ ​your​ ​speech,​ ​thoughts,​ ​and​ ​even body​ ​before,​ ​during,​ ​and​ ​after​ ​engaging​ ​in​ ​a​ ​conversation,​ ​especially​ ​one​ ​that​ ​is​ ​had​ ​during times​ ​of​ ​conflict. 
In​ ​her​ ​book,​ ​​Fully​ ​Present:​ ​The​ ​Science,​ ​Art,​ ​and​ ​Practice​ ​of​ ​Mindfulness​,​ ​Susan​ ​L.​ ​Smalley noted​ ​that​ ​with​ ​the​ ​use​ ​of​ ​mindful​ ​speech​ ​and​ ​exercises​ ​in​ ​compassion,​ ​​"we​ ​are​ ​able​ ​to​ ​bring about​ ​more​ ​peaceful​ ​and​ ​harmonious​ ​communities."  
If​ ​you​ ​make​ ​the​ ​commitment​ ​to​ ​practice​ ​mindfulness,​ ​there​ ​are​ ​certain​ ​behaviors​ ​you​ ​can​ ​adapt to​ ​help​ ​in​ ​your​ ​attempt​ ​to​ ​avoid​ ​“ringing​ ​the​ ​bell.” 
The​ ​next​ ​time​ ​you​ ​are​ ​in​ ​the​ ​heat​ ​of​ ​a​ ​difficult​ ​conversation,​ ​take​ ​a​ ​small​ ​moment​ ​to​ ​breath. Notice​ ​your​ ​breaths​ ​as​ ​you​ ​take​ ​air​ ​in​ ​and​ ​out.​ ​Just​ ​that​ ​small​ ​act​ ​of​ ​introspection​ ​will​ ​help​ ​to center​ ​yourself​ ​on​ ​what​ ​is​ ​happening​ ​before​ ​it​ ​escalates.


Focusing​ ​on​ ​what​ ​the​ ​main​ ​problem​ ​is​ ​will​ ​also​ ​help​ ​with​ ​mindful​ ​communication.​ ​If​ ​you​ ​keep​ ​the issue​ ​on​ ​topic,​ ​you​ ​can​ ​avoid​ ​tangents​ ​from​ ​popping​ ​up​ ​and​ ​personal​ ​matters​ ​from​ ​being brought​ ​into​ ​the​ ​discussion​ ​where​ ​they​ ​can​ ​cause​ ​hurt​ ​feelings.  
Naming​ ​the​ ​emotion​ ​you​ ​are​ ​experiencing​ ​during​ ​a​ ​conflict​ ​presents​ ​your​ ​frustrations​ ​to​ ​the other​ ​person.​ ​Expressing​ ​the​ ​fear,​ ​disgust,​ ​or​ ​irritation​ ​you​ ​feel​ ​in​ ​the​ ​moment​ ​allows​ ​them​ ​and yourself​ ​to​ ​know​ ​where​ ​your​ ​words​ ​are​ ​coming​ ​from.​ ​Use​ ​phrases​ ​like​ ​“I​ ​feel​ ​irritated​ ​because this​ ​happened”​ ​or​ ​“I’m​ ​worried​ ​because​ ​this​ ​might​ ​not​ ​happen.”​ ​This​ ​will​ ​remind​ ​you​ ​that​ ​the other​ ​person​ ​is​ ​not​ ​the​ ​root​ ​of​ ​the​ ​problem​ ​and​ ​will​ ​keep​ ​you​ ​from​ ​“ringing​ ​the​ ​bell,”​ ​purposely​ ​or accidently.  
Just​ ​like​ ​the​ ​ringing​ ​of​ ​a​ ​bell,​ ​angry​ ​words​ ​can’t​ ​be​ ​quieted​ ​once​ ​they’ve​ ​been​ ​heard.​ ​With​ ​the practice​ ​of​ ​mindful​ ​communication,​ ​you​ ​can​ ​keep​ ​that​ ​bell​ ​silent

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