Has someone said shameful & hurtful words to you? Here are 3 things you should do…

When you disappoint someone, do this...

I received a letter in the mail a few weeks ago, the likes of which I had never received before.

You see, I get letters from readers often, but this one wasn’t a letter to say thanks or to share a reader’s story or recommend a product or even suggest a different viewpoint.

Nope.

This anonymous letter was straight up blasting one of my kids and my parenting of this child in a very scathing way.

I’ve received lots of constructive criticism over the years. I delete negative comments and emails pretty much every day. I often have to block commenters who are unkind and ugly toward me or other commenters.

But this the letter called my child horrible names and was so utterly hateful and shaming that I immediately had my husband shred it lest my child see the terrible names they were being called.

I won’t lie and pretend it didn’t bother me. Over the years, I have developed pretty thick skin for comments or disagreements that are directed to me, but you bring my kids into it and this Mama Bear gets fired up.

In fact, my first thought was, “How DARE you write in and scream hateful things about my child!!” {Yes, that may not have been the most gracious thought, but I’m just being truthful here!}

Instead of letting myself stay there all upset, I intentionally decided to do three things. And these three things helped me to process through this situation in a much healthier way than just being angry and upset.

The next time you are in situation where you are the recipient of shameful and hurtful words, I wanted to share these three things I did with you in hopes that maybe they’d help you, too:

1. Don’t Let Other’s Words Define You

When you receive hurtful and derogatory comments, you can instantly go to a place of shame. It is very easy to start thinking you are not good enough, that you’ve failed, that you are a horrible person.

Here’s the truth, though: Other’s words only have power over us if we choose to allow them to. Their words might hurt. They might cut deep. They might sting. But they don’t have to define us.

In the case of this letter, I cannot base my parenting decisions upon what others think of me. I cannot let other’s frustrations with my parenting decisions be what determines how I’m parenting. Other people are not my parenting barometer.

God has uniquely gifted my husband and me to parent our own kids. We are responsible before God only for how we raise our kids. While we can learn from other parents and be inspired by other parents, ultimately, we are our own kids parents. No one else is.

So when someone – who is anonymous and who doesn’t know me at all – says I’m a terrible parent and calls my child names, that has no bearing on me as a parent. I reminded myself of this after I read the letter and chose to not let their scathing words define me as a mom.

2. Do Consider Their Perspective

While we shouldn’t let what other people say about us define us, there still may be truth in their words. And I believe it’s important to pay attention to what truths might be there that we need to consider.

Step back and really consider their words – not the way they were said or how they were delivered – but instead, just consider the words themselves and ask yourself, “Is there any truth or merit in what this person is saying?”

Did I do something that was hurtful? Did I say something that was unnecessary? Did I have an unkind attitude?

Just because someone says something that is hurtful doesn’t mean we should discount everything they said. I know in my life, some of the things people have said that have initially been hurtful, were actually words I needed to hear. They opened up my eyes to a flaw or blind spot or area in my life that I needed to work on.

One thing I’ve found helpful is to have people in my life who have earned the right to speak truth and then to process hurts with them. Read them the text or letter or email that was sent to you. Tell them exactly what someone said to you or accused you of and ask them to help you discern whether there is truth to what was said.

Many times, having an outside unbiased perspective on the situation can give us clarity that we wouldn’t have if we were just trying to process through the situation or hurtful words by ourself.When you disappoint someone, do this....

If you realize that you have made a mistake, admit it and own it. We all make mistakes and fail. Don’t pretend you have it all together or never make mistakes. Don’t pretend you are never at fault. Because sometimes, you are. 

I’ve been blogging for the last 11 years and believe me, I’ve failed many times. I’ve responded to comments ungraciously. There have been times I’ve returned snark with snark or tried to defend myself when I should have just stayed quiet. I’ve had to take posts down and make apologies and ask for forgiveness.

In the case of the accusatory letter, after reading it, I asked my husband to read it, too. I asked him for his perspective on it. He immediately told me to completely disregard what was said as, in this case, there was no truth or merit to what the person said. Instead, it just felt like they were angry and upset and took it out on me for some reason. It was her issue, not mine.

Having his outside perspective helped me to have clarity about the issue that I may not have had on my own. 

3. Remember Your Personal Priorities

What’s going to matter 25 years from now? I often ask myself that when I’m trying to determine my priorities.

We can’t please everyone. We can’t make everyone happy. We can’t do all the things for all the people. And because of this, we will always end up disappointing people. 

I’ve had to accept that there will be others who are disappointed by what I do or what I don’t do, frustrated by what I say or what I don’t say, bothered by how I parent or don’t parent, irritated by what I blog, annoyed with my personality or videos or speaking style… and on and on it goes. I am only responsible for my own actions; I am not responsible for people’s reactions to my actions. 

I just can’t please everyone. In fact, I can’t please a lot of people. Who I am, what I blog about, what I believe, how I write, my personality… it’s just not for everyone. In fact, it’s not for a lot of people. And that’s completely okay.

What matters is that I focus on what my priorities are and that I embrace who God has called me to be. My priorities are different than your priorities. My parenting style is different than your parenting style. My writing style is different than other blogger’s writing styles. What I’m called to is different than what you’re called to.

I reminded myself of this after I read this critical letter. I went back to the truth: that I am uniquely called and gifted to be a mother to my own children. It’s not my responsibility to parent in a way that other people are telling me I should. It’s my responsibility to do what I know is right before God.

When I walk in confidence in my own personal priorities, I can have freedom not fear. When I embrace who God has called me to be, I can believe the truth about myself and my worth and value instead of giving into the lies of shame and insecurity.

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