You may be wondering what I mean when I say, “waiting 24 hours”.
Well, let me tell you what it means. Just yesterday I was lucky enough to attend a conference held by NextGeneration in Brisbane, and even then, one of the speakers mentioned the crucial, wait 24 hours before your respond.
He stated quite sternly; “Wait 24 hours before you do anything, giving your emotive response time to calm down”. He is so right!
I have come to love this saying as it has a very personal meaning to me. As the guest speaker talked about waiting before responding, my mother nudged me and had this wicked grin on her face as she reflected back to when I myself hadn’t listened to this advice. I didn’t wait the 24 hours, I responded full of emotion and anger, boy did it back fire.
It was a piece of advice my father gave me when I was in Year 12 after something happened which I will tell you about. He is an amazing man, my father, and continues to give me good advice and constantly reminds me to; breathe, take 24 hours, sleep on it, wait before you respond. This advice has saved me on many occasions and I am sure will continue to throughout the life I have in front of me.
Let me set the scene for you.
I was in Year 12, it was 2001 and I had only been in Australia 4 years. We had moved from the United Arab Emirates and an International School. I will discuss this another time. I had this interesting friendship with another girl at my school on the Sunshine Coast, her name was Kate. To be honest we did not get along. AT ALL!
We used to walk the playground, as you do when you are in high school and glare at each other as we crossed paths.
If we sat near one another it was the typical whispering and giggling that girls do when we want the other group to think we are talking about them. Thinking back to it now, it was so silly, so stupid. As a teacher now though, I am the one dealing with these girl issues as their Head of Year, talk about irony!
One afternoon I was pretending to do my Homework/study at home, and yes pretending is the truth, and I happened to check my e-mail. There was this long e-mail from Kate. The e-mail was, let’s just say, not very nice. She used colorful language and wrote things about my parents and used words to describe them that made me angry. SOOOOOO angry!
The following emotions began to flow:
- A bomb about to explode…..
These are just a few!
All of them being what my positive psychology course would refer to as ‘red cape emotions’. Emotions that when left to fester can produce a negative response.
As mentioned yesterday at the conference, the fight or flight response became engaged and the adrenalin began to soar. Before I could stop myself, before I even thought about the two choices in front of me I hit the reply button and away I went.
I was pounding those keys, smiling evilly to myself as I thought about how I was replying. The evil grin coupled with the nasty little laugh you hear on the Disney animations when the villain is about to enact his revenge.
How the following day I was going to meet her in the playground and give her a real piece of my mind. She was going to feel the rage I was feeling!
Let’s just say, as my imagination ran away with me at how this ‘meeting’ was going to take place. It did not turn out how I envisioned. Rather much worse.
So I woke up the following day, eager to get to school and enact this revenge. The vision had developed overnight. You can imagine as a teenage girl what it looked like the following morning. ‘Me standing over her body, one foot on her, arms in the air, my body telling those around me, don’t mess with me and my family. Rather ‘gangster like’ but that’s what my mind did.
So I head to school and before I know it, before I get to see Kate, before I get to say my piece I am hauled into the principals office. Now I don’t know about you but it’s the same feeling of dread you get when a police car is behind you. Even though you have done nothing wrong, you second guess everything you are doing and get all nervous.
Well, Kate had shown her parents my e-mail response. Here I was the one in trouble, because I replied, because I did not wait to respond and if I had just taken the 24 hours, the response would have been much less ‘angry’. To say the least I was ashamed, I was annoyed and when read back to me I realised my response was just as bad as her initial e-mail. I had been brought down to her level and acted just as she did.
Put it this way, this was a life lesson and one I look back on now and smile about. Often we talk about the lessons we learn in life and how they shape us as human beings. This did just that. From that shameful moment on I began to take the time before responding.
Throughout the ordeal of the family and criminal courts, the education system, being a teacher and a parent, there have been many times where I have crafted this amazing emotion filled inappropriate response to an e-mail, text or something of the like and then stopped, taken a breath and deleted it. I kept thinking to myself, if my parents read this what would they think.
Sometimes I would e-mail myself the response I wanted to send, then at least when I hit the send button I felt some relief. I would even sometimes send it onto my mother and ask her to hep me remove the emotion.
This skill of waiting the ’24 hours’ has helped me immensely. I encourage you next time you want to hammer a response or take on the person who has angered, annoyed or irritated you, wait. Take a few breaths, walk away and come back to it when you are calmer and more rational. Its amazing what adrenalin can do and how it will make you respond.
Remember you are not on their level, you are better than them. You are strong. You don’t want to go through the feeling of being ashamed or regret as once you hit the send button or you utter those words as once they leave your e-mail or your mouth you will never be able to get them back. EVER!
Be wary of the hurt it can cause the other person, yourself and those around you.