“At the end of the day, end of the month and at the end of my life, I want to be able to say that I contributed more than I criticised.” Brené Brown
This quote struck a chord with me. The reason being is that I see this basic principle being broken over and over again both by myself and people around me in all facets of life. Whether we are stepping into an online discussion, having lunch with colleagues or spending quality time with a loved one – we should always have in front of us the question: “What am I bringing to this?”
If the answer to that question is unresolved frustration, bitterness, hidden resentment, an endless stream of complaining, hate, shame, blame or any other “delightful” contribution, and if with our words, energy and actions we are not engaging people to positive action, connecting with them or bringing them hope, understanding, love, encouragement or the like…then we better SHUT THE F**K UP.
Think about it. When we use our precious time with a family member to dump our bottled up frustrations instead of actually connecting with them, or when we openly trash talk a person that walked by for wearing a flashy yellow hat (how dare he be different!), or when we discourage people we love from projects and ideas simply because we don’t (yet) understand them…what are we really bringing to the table?
We may try to be clever and hide behind silly ideas to justify this behaviour, saying that we do this “for their own good, to save them from failure” or “if I can’t complain to you who can I complain to?” or “a little gossip never hurt anyone”. But, in my point of view, all these situations have one common thread – LACK OF RESPONSIBILITY.
Every word that we speak or publish creates a ripple, an indent in the minds and bodies of people receiving the message. There is so much chatter around us that we think we are immune to it, but words create feelings, convey images and spark action.
When we tell a racist joke amongst colleagues, maybe no one will be brave enough to tell us it’s wrong, but with it we created a ripple and possibly a consequence of slowly losing trust with our colleagues. When we use friends and partners as dumpsters for our day-to-day negativity, using up all the “air time” for our own rants – we can sure as hell bet that here too the trust will be dismantled, one brick at a time.
It’s time we take responsibility for the energy and actions we put into the world. The Internet does NOT need to know our every opinion, especially if it is not properly backed up and reasoned. Our loved ones are NOT our conversational punching bags. There is a BIG difference between sharing our troubles and recklessly dumping our negativity. Constant complaining is NOT a “cute” national sport, as some of us used to say (guilty as charged).
It’s easy to hide behind things like Internet profiles, excuses of stress and simple taking for granted of people’s time and energy. But every time we have a person or group in front of us or on the other side of the screen, we have to remember that these people quite literally could have chosen to spend their time listening and engaging with someone else. Yet, even with the billions of people in the world, they chose to spend time with us. It may not seem like much, this devotion of time. But every time we spend time with someone or open a discussion with them – it means they carved out a bit (or a chunk!) of their life to connect with us. To exchange views, ideas, emotions. To freakin’ be human. Let’s not be reckless with the energy of others. Our same negativity will boomerang right back at us when we least expect or need it. So this. This is where a mini revolution of active compassion starts – by (sometimes) shutting the f**k up. By assessing what we bring to the conversational “potluck dinners” that are our social lives. Because we DO have impact. How about we start cleaning up?