You Are Responsible For What You Say, Not What Others Hear


We are all guilty of this, someone says something to us and we process it in a way that does not reflect their initial intention. I was reading a book the other day by Don Miguel Ruiz Jr. and he quotes his father by saying, “I am responsible for what I say, but I am not responsible for what you hear”. This statement rings true to the way we communicate every single day, especially the way we communicate conflict. We can say the same thing over and over again, but it ultimately is up to the other person to either hear us for what our words are, or for how they perceive them to be based on their own drama.

I’m sure you’ve been in a situation where you make statements about your own world and what you are learning, and someone takes the story and makes it all about them and you’re like, “Wait. Why did you just make this about you. This is about me and my life”. Some people only know how to hear our words by listening through their deepest insecurities. This has nothing to do with us.

It’s important that we unconditionally take responsibility of every word we say, but that we do not take responsibility for how others hear us and the outcome of how they do so. It’s not our problem to navigate another person’s problem, that is for their own inner work. 

To best take responsibility of how we speak, is to make sure we are constantly and unapologetically speaking our truth. This means that we are being mindful to not intentionally cause harm to anyone by the way we speak, but it also means that we have a good enough relationship with ourselves that we are wholeheartedly sharing our own stories, and what we learn from them and others stories as well.

It’s crucial that we really listen and dial in to hear what one is saying, and not just listen to the way it makes us feel because oftentimes, they do not reflect one another.

True freedom is hearing something, and not taking it any further and not turning it into something based on your own disfigurement. Language is sacred, it can easily be misread or misinterpreted. It’s important that we speak our truth, and hear others for what theirs is as well, not for how we perceive it based on our own experience.