Reflection Verses Reaction

The old saying is, “Open mouth, insert foot.” 

Too often, we have encounters that we later regret.  Many of these are during contentious situations.  We have this heated exchange, and then we react by saying something completely wrong or hurtful, and we do more damage than good. 

Amid a complicated, stressful, anxious, or angry situation, your natural response is to open your mouth and pour out all your feelings.  What if there were a better way?  A way you could avoid all the shame, regret, and guilt caused by your mouth. What if, instead of reacting, you chose to reflect first?

I learned this simple trick as a parent: Take the time to count to 10 before responding to your child in a sticky situation.  The principle applies to numerous aspects of life.  When you feel hurt, take time to think about the other person’s feelings and make sure your heart is right with God.  When you are unhappy about how a situation has turned, consider alternatives, and ask God for direction.  When you are filled with anger, step aside, take a deep breath, ask God for wisdom, and get your head right before your mouth engages. 

Of course, you can always take those touchy moments and use them to speak your mind.  Just know that no one has ever regretted taking time to reflect before speaking, but everyone knows what it is like to open their mouth and do more damage than metaphorically inserting their foot. 

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