Ever been in one of those moments that renders you speechless?
Perhaps something tragic and unexpected happened to someone you know. You watched the horror unfold. You searched desperately for the right words and just couldn’t find them. Or maybe you weren’t on the sidelines watching the horror unfold, maybe the loss was yours too. You wanted to reach out, but you didn’t know which words to use. You found yourself staying silent.
Or maybe it was a more ordinary moment that robbed you of your voice. Maybe you just needed know what to say to your child. Children have a way of asking questions that adults trip over. Many adults wonder when and how to approach topics like injustice, sex, or death.
I’ve noticed that when I’m rendered speechless, it is often because my mind is locked in a search for the right thing to say in a situation in which there is no right thing to say. There are no magical words that can halt death or heal grief. There is no miraculous phrasing that will spare your child from the realities of death and loss. There is no incantation that, once said, will keep your child innocent.
So now if I find myself speechless I remind myself to stop searching for the magic formula. There is no right thing to say.
Instead, I take a deep breath. I begin by listening. I ensure that I really understand the situation or my child’s question. And when I’m ready, I speak, truthfully and with compassionate connection. I speak knowing that what I’ve said isn’t right, knowing that it won’t fix anything. Instead of searching for the right words, I find words that are true and kind. Instead of trying to fix anything, I try to connect, person to person.
And you know what? It makes all the difference.
Apply it to your life: Next time you are rendered speechless, let go of finding the right words and instead speak truthfully and with compassion.