At the ripe old age of 37, I’m probably better now at holding my tongue, than ever. I can stay quiet while those precious few seconds pass by, instead of spouting off the first thing that comes to my mind… Sometimes…
The problem though, lies in the fact that a thought or reaction or concern has occurred to me, and I need to quickly decide that I will not immediately express it verbally. I can be in a conversation, or see something happen, or maybe get a text message, that I want to instantly respond to… negatively.
As the saying goes, ‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.’ Right?
If I am happy with what I see and hear, it’s perfectly appropriate to congratulate or encourage or celebrate with someone at good news… but that’s not what I’m blogging about here.
That little saying is designed to remind us that our brain is going to serve up our fears or insecurities or especially judgments and we aren’t helping ourselves or others by barking them out at every opportunity.
There is another issue however, in that the holding back of those thoughts, rarely goes unnoticed. Emotional fakery is easily detectible. I seem to radiate tension into the space between people, when I am thinking something negative, but choosing to keep it verbally canned up. The air gets thicker and time ticks slowly with loud heartbeat thumps for those awkward moments between sentences. At least in my own mind it does. I don’t think any one of us is oblivious to the true inner dialogue and feelings of another person, even if they aren’t talking about them.
So we have a dilemma.
Even if I get really good at holding my tounge, I need to do more than that. I need to stuff down and hide my feelings far away from the detectors of my family or staff or customers or guy at the gas station… right??
Impossible and shady and on some level I’ll become a professional politician, always blurring the boundaries between truth and bullshit. I don’t think that is our answer.
This week, I was given a little hint at how to deal with these situations, that seem to be bursting like popcorn all around me.
‘If I don’t have anything nice to THINK, I could choose to not THINK anything at all.’
Instead of being aware of the words about to leave my lips and halting them, I could notice the thoughts themselves that constructed those mental words. My mind constantly fires off a barrage of observations and predictions and YES negative judgments about the world and people around me. Sometimes that helps me to survive and avoid bodily harm. Most of the time however, it leaves me in a general dismay about things I see and hear in my day-to-day life.
If I begin to decide that not all of those mental pictures and negativity are helpful, then I can make a new plan. Like changing the channel of the TV away from the evening news, to something, ANYTHING else, I can break the momentum of that hostility between my ears.
Just taking a microsecond to redirect my inner attention can stop that dark snowball effect. I am not assisted positively by every darn thing that I ‘think’. I don’t have to believe everything I think. I can step back momentarily and return later with a fresh perspective and then decide whether further processing is necessary.
A quick judgement is rarely the best one. I am not being chased by a wild jungle cat. I don’t need to kill or be killed. These primitive warrior instincts can overtake my overly pampered and plush lifestyle in the modern day Midwest.
All this is easier to say (or rather to type) in the silence of my living room, than to live out, for the rest of my today. I will give it a try though. I will let go when I can, and just ponder quietly another mental photograph, any other one, as long as it clips the thought chains that are dragging into darkness.
Until next week my friends, I wish you well being. Even more important though, I wish for you, the ability to create your own well being, in all circumstances.