Here is Buddhism's 4th Precept: Deep Listening and Loving Speech that has inspired this post. There is so much to learn and discover in this precept.
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I vow to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
Loving Speech sounds easy, as do a lot of these practices, but I have found that when I am even the slightest bit stressed out, burnt out, stretched thin or just not feeling myself, this is one of the first things to go, especially towards those closest to me. Again, another reason why meditating is so crucial because it helps keep us from getting so mentally fatigued from all the goings-on in life that we can maintain our Loving Speech.
This isn't to say that we shouldn't address serious or negative issues in our lives or relationships, it merely means that we shouldn't use knee-jerk reaction speech when we feel frustrated or angry. Now, just last week I probably raised my voice and/or spoke in a "not-so-nice" tone towards my daughter, my husband and my mother. Have I failed at being able to engage in Loving Speech - not entirely. After each instance, I took a deep breath, apologized and acknowledged my wrong doing. Do I always do that? Not always, but I am ruthless for making sure I take responsibility for my feelings, actions and words. So, the second step - making sure we let those around us know we are sorry for our mistakes and letting them know how we feel without blame or lack of responsibility.
In Thay's practice he speaks on "Beginning a New." Every morning, when the sunrises, we have another 24 hours to start over, try to do things differently, reflect on what's going well, what's not, how we can make things "right" and then try it again when we make mistakes. I suffer greatly from perfectionism in terms of trying to evolve into my highest potential but I am humbled by my mistakes into remembering my humanity. Even though there have been some ugly times when I would be excrutiatingly ashamed to have anyone there to witness, I am deeply moved when at night, after saying "I love you" as I close the door to my daughters room, she says to me, "Thanks, Mom!" Or when she spontaneously says, "I love you my mommy."
Speak Lovingly. Listen Deeply. Breathe. We are alive.