Open Mouth, Insert Foot [Tales From the Karmic Slingshot]


I am always hammering home these points to my husband...stuff like, “Don’t generalize groups of people” and “Don’t be judgmental” --you know, things like that. You likely have your own set of things that you repeat like this either to your children or to your husband or whoever is closest to you.

Of course the universe is a strange place to live in and it’s always smacking you with your own lessons. If you are repeating to someone else, you are sure to need a cosmic nudge in it’s direction--at least that is what I come to find over and over. I have a name I made up for it...I call it the karmic slingshot.

The karmic slingshot is the moment when you get your lesson slung right back in your face like a universal chain reaction. It generally happens rapidly. I had one such incident just a week ago when I was enjoying a playoff game at a friend’s house.

Now, I am not big drinker, but I had three beers that evening. I’m a little lady, so these three beers made me a little tipsy. The group of people I was with was discussing someone I don’t know. They said, “Oh you know, she’s a lawyer, she’s supposed to be smart.” So what did I do? I tried to fit into the conversation by saying something really dumb [which was also not so nice] to make everyone laugh.

I said, “Oh you know lawyers--they are smart, but lack all common sense.” Just coming out of my mouth, it tasted stupid. And right away there was an awkward pause because not only was there a lawyer present in the room, but the host’s father is also a lawyer.

Open mouth, insert foot. I felt like an idiot. 

Now, no one else really seemed to care beyond a five second window. My friends, thank god, know me pretty well and didn’t pass judgment on me. The lawyer, who I later complimented as “one of the smartest lawyers I know” let my stupid remark roll right off his back. And yet...I knew I had become the recent recipient of my own karmic slingshot.

As I rode home that night, I could hear my own self in my head saying, “Never generalize a group of people.” Which is, of course, what I did in that moment. I chalked it up to another example of why I should never drink in public as well as a profoundly impulsive thing to say.

Certainly I wasn’t trying to make a comment about lawyers in general as much as I was falling back into the old habit of wanting to belong. I had nothing nice to say, as it were, and I should have kept my mouth shut and said nothing at all. But the tug of wanting to identify with a group of people is a huge motivator. And that was when I found myself jumping in and wanting to be “included.”

People do this a lot--in general. Some get their karmic slingshot instantly and are humbled and others have to wait a little longer for their lightbulb moment. I have been doing a great job avoiding drama, and luckily this didn’t lead to any big thing.

What it did do, though, was to serve as a great reminder that once in a while we all make mistakes--sometimes when we least expect it. If you can be aware of the dumb crap you do or say, you at least stand a  better chance of not repeating.

As for me? When I have nothing nice to say, I won’t say anything at all...especially when it concerns generalizing an entire group of people. I have to keep in mind that people like me for who I am and I don’t have to always relate to people, or overreach to belong. And for the record, I think lawyers are very, very smart...and they have a lot of common sense.

So what about you? Do you have times when you feel like you need to break into a conversation to belong? Have you had any recent put your foot in your mouth moments? Let’s discuss in the comment section below!

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