April 18, 2021
I originally published this post in 2015. It generated a lot of email responses and comments–which, incidentally, I love to get. Please keep them coming.
The last six years have brought monumental changes to my life and the world. But one thing hasn’t changed. Too often, I still forget to be quiet.
I never regret being “too” quiet. I always regret blurting.
Once again, I’m ready to give this idea the attention it deserves. I’m hoping you’ll be as pleased with the reminder as I was when I came across it.
I started practicing being quiet occasionally (a euphemism for shutting up) many years ago. At the time, I had the patience and attention span of a gerbil. My lack of patience, and inability to focus my attention, created problems in every area of my life. Getting quiet was my solution.
Here are some of the outcomes of shutting up and being quiet that I’ve experienced.
I’m more aware of the contents of my mind. Although my mind is still as ready to lead me around by the nose as ever, I find it easier not to impulsively act on what it’s telling me to do.
By becoming more familiar with the repetitive chants in my mind, I’m seeing how I work, and more importantly, seeing what doesn’t work. What doesn’t work is believing everything I think, blurting the first thought that enters my mind, or interrupting you before you’ve finished speaking.
It turns out that the vast majority of my blurts are mindless ramblings that bear no resemblance to anything I want running the show!
I’ve developed a wry affection for my communication limitations. It feels similar to what I felt for my son when he was very young and did something thoughtless or rude. (Young boys are big on body function noises.)
Taking myself less seriously has given me a surprising sense of freedom while at the same time has helped me to listen better.
Unfortunately, I still get caught off guard. I get triggered or have a thought that feels like it must come out immediately. I regret it almost every time.
Because the quieter I am, the more curious I become. Curiosity has become one of my top values. When I’m curious, my understanding of others grows, and my need for them to understand me is less powerful. If this last development were the only change, it would be enough.
Trying to force anybody to believe or do anything they don’t want to is exhausting! And demanding that someone understand us is fruitless.
Those were my thoughts back in 2015. I’m looking forward to once again being purposeful in playing with the idea that sometimes shutting up can be more powerful than words.
I’m always up for a challenge. I hope you’ll join me!