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It's okay to say, "I shouldn't have said that."


We've all screwed up and said something to our (former) spouses that we wish we had not said -- maybe even some snarky comment that snuck out when the kids could hear us (or were literally standing there looking at us.  It's possible that I have real-time experience with this.)

If you're like me, you knew it as the words were escaping your mouth.  You could hear them inside your own brain.

You were pissed about something, then you started talking, then you instantly had the the thought "I shouldn't be saying this."

But your mouth was moving faster than your brain in that moment and, well, now it's out there.

And now you're feeling the regret.  And your brain is telling you to get the f*&!ck away from that feeling of regret.

So, now what are you going to do?

Listen, my friends.  You're not perfect.  I'm not perfect.

And guess what, the Judge in your divorce or custody case is not perfect, and she or he is not expecting perfection from you.

As soon as you realize that snarky, crappy thing that you should not have said to or about your ex is out in the world, your brain is going to tell you to try to hide from it, or ignore it, or get away from it.

But you can't shove this into the hall closet, like you do with the clutter in your house when you know someone is coming over and you haven't really had time to tidy up the place.

And the truth is, you shouldn't try to shove this into a dark closet.  I know your brain is telling you to do that, but your brain is lying to you.  (Brains do that to us, like a lot.)

In fact, I want you to do the opposite.  I want you to shine a light on it.

I want you to own it.

Yes, you're reading that correctly.  Own it.  You screwed up.  Take responsibility for it.

I don't mean by beating yourself up about it.

I mean by examining the feeling that drove the action of making the snarky comment in the first place. . .

and then figuring out the thought that caused that feeling. . .

and then deciding if you want to keep that thought.  

And once you've done that work, this next thing I'm going to tell you to do will be much easier. . .

Just say "Hey, I shouldn't have said that."

Say it to whoever heard you say the thing.

Say it to your kids if they heard the snarky comment.  "Hey, I was angry earlier and I don't like the way I handled myself.  I shouldn't have said that thing I said about dad."

Say it to your ex, certainly if he was a first-hand witness to the crappy comment, but even if he wasn't (if only because it may get back to him anyway.)

Hiding because you're ashamed or regretful feels even shittier than regretting the thing that is leading to the feeling of shame or regret in the first place.

Hiding is so. . . disempowering.

But when you own the truth of your mistakes, when you demonstrate actual accountability, you take all of oxygen away from the blazing inferno of shame and regret.

You take back your power.

That's amazing, isn't it?  That admitting a mistake could actually empower you.  And it's true.  Just try it.

Oh and, by the way, that judge in your case, you know what she or he really loves to see?  Not perfection.

If you try to sell them the story that you're perfect, they're going to think you're trying to bullshit them because, well, you being perfect is just bullshit.

But when you tell them you made a mistaken and owned up to it, then you get some respect.

Respect out of a mistake.  Also amazing.

So, my friends, when the snarky comment happens -- and I know that it will -- we have to remember this. . .

It's okay to say, "I shouldn't have said that."

Take good care, friends.  Talk to you soon.


If You're Struggling To Peacefully Co-Parent After Divorce, Stop Telling Yourself This Lie. . .

and learn the 3 Truths that will CHANGE EVERYTHING.

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