What I meant to say is…

Yesterday I bought some cloth napkins. A set of eight, all with a different phrase.

2015-10-07 14.08.18I don’t even own a dining room table so doubt they will ever be used in any formal way, but I loved them and couldn’t resist.

A few times a month people come to my home to write. That will be the excuse to use the napkins…

You see, we usually write from prompts and for the last year have relied on these “social conversation starters” for the topics.

2015-10-07 14.12.13A card is drawn and we have 8 minutes to write on the subject. After years of doing this I swear I can write a short story on any subject at any time.

My only problem is when we decide to lengthen the amount of time given for one topic. When the prompt is mundane, “your favourite meal” or silly, “what cartoon character would you like to be?” I can get lost and run out of steam.

Long ago we were taught a trick to use if you run out of something to say or if you lose your train of thought and get stuck. Simply write, “What I meant to say is…” This usually gets your pen moving again. A very powerful tool that has never failed me.

Recently I realized these six words can be used all the time.

They are magical when it’s your pen and paper… but even more powerful when you’re speaking.

They will make you stop all the yelling and posturing and blablabla-ing.

We humans can get off track and have conversations that have nothing to do with our original intent. We can forget why we are even talking with this person. We can let our emotions rule our vocal cords and stifle what our heart is trying to say. We can be so angry that it’s easier to yell “fuck you.” We can be so hurt that tears cloud any response.

Taking a breath and saying, “What I meant to say is…” can be your reboot.

And even if it’s just to take that moment to not let your heart be misunderstood.

Try it sometime… try it today.

“What I meant to say is… I’m sorry.”

“What I meant to say is… it’s not your cooking it’s just that I hate blue cheese.”

“What I meant to say is… I love you and want you to be happy.”

“What I meant to say is…”

  • Deb

    “We can be so angry that it’s easier to yell “fuck you.” We can be so hurt that tears cloud any response.”

    So very true. Anger is almost always a cover up for another emotion – hurt, fear, etc. Expressing the anger just makes things worse but this:

    ““What I meant to say is… ”

    Such a powerful little phrase. I’m going to start using it!

    • Let me know how you make out… I used it yesterday and the reaction was so worthwhile.

  • My last few weeks (months?!) at work have been marked with frustration and anger and angered-frustration. I think this phrase will be accompanied with a big sigh of release. Thank you!