293 Days ’til 40: Holding My Tongue

04 May

An Englishman’s never so natural as when he’s holding his tongue. ~ Henry James

I have often repented speaking, but never of holding my tongue.  – Xenocrates

I suppose it is interesting to many that the day after I write about saying what you mean and meaning what you say I am changing topics and writing on holding your tongue.  Why on earth would I do that???  The reason is… we are all human and we have to be able to find the balance.

I have learned that there are times when the best thing I can say is nothing at all and even the best thing I can do is nothing at all.  It is important for us to feel comfortable understanding there may be times when the best way to solve a problem is to offer support and not really solve the problem.

I find that when I am working with mentally ill individuals or individuals who are drunk and/ or high, there is simply no reason to waste my breath to engage with and encourage the dysfunction.  In these cases, I wait until the person is sober and see if they really are interested in my help and support.

Gossip circles are so easy to join – I often find that to be the case at my work….. this is a place (the water cooler conversations) where I really need to watch my tongue in order to make sure I do not hurt the feelings of others and also do not jeopardize my employment.

A few times at work I have had very unhealthy individuals scream and rant and rave at me.  Once I responded by hanging up on the person (after a warning).  I felt horribly guilty and had to call the woman back and apologize so that I would start sleeping again….. and another time I had an epiphany in the midst of the person’s partially fabricated rant.  In that moment I realized how mentally ill the person was and also that they would struggle to maintain any sort of healthy life, which must have exacerbated their own stress levels.  I knew from that moment that I would not be responding to the person who was ranting, as it was not worth engaging in any way.  When they saw I was not engaging, then they really were not interested in me at all.  It was an incredibly eye-opening and freeing moment.  It is now a lesson I apply regularly.

Today, 293 days ’til 40, I remind myself that some things are best left unsaid and I will work harder to make sure that the words that come out of my mouth are words that will enhance a person’s life, instead of detract from it.



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28 responses to “293 Days ’til 40: Holding My Tongue

  1. viveka

    May 4, 2012 at 00:14

    Gossip … is an evil thing – something small just turn into massive thing. Happen to my many years ago – and I didn’t know about the gossips until maybe 10 years later. We had an outburst of salmonella over 35.000 people came down with it and it happen on during my 14 last days with the company. Even I was infected. I left the company .. and came back after 2 years and many years after that – somebody said to me … wasn’t you the one that got sacked because of the salmonella outburst. Never heard about it, but that was the talk inside the company.
    Sometimes I think all the A-list’s marriages and relationships don’t last because of all the rumors that press and magazines comes up – don’t understand how they manage living with all that. It comes with the famous, but it us the readers that wants it – it us that create the need and want more. So I have stopped buying all glossy magazines with gossip.

    • 400daystil40

      May 4, 2012 at 08:46

      Oh no, what an awful rumor about you…. I suppose it was better that you heard years later than at the moment it was all happening… that may have been even worse! Yes, I agree, the media certainly fuels a culture of gossip and wanting and needing it… or maybe they just make money on it because they know humans love it. I think a lot of Hollywood relationships do not last because of this extra pressure on the stars.

      • viveka

        May 4, 2012 at 11:09

        I would have been mad if I had found out earlier – but I wasn’t in the company at the time .. when I found out it was so fare passed, just ignored it. Yes, to be a star or a royalty – and not able to do anything without the media write about it. Price that comes with the paycheck, but still …

  2. rabidmongoose

    May 4, 2012 at 00:27

    You don’t know how right you are!
    James 3:9-10 “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be.”

  3. Fay Moore

    May 4, 2012 at 01:28

    You know, my friend, for someone who thinks he needs to figure life out, I think you have already done it. You are solid and wise. You just don’t recognize it yet.

    • 400daystil40

      May 4, 2012 at 08:51

      Thank you so much! I think we are always learning and evolving and I hope I continue to be able to learn and evolve as I continue through life 🙂

  4. dcwisdom

    May 4, 2012 at 01:33

    Excellent post!

  5. graceyb

    May 4, 2012 at 01:48

    Wise words…Very hard to do. I have found that larangytis helps, when I CAN’T talk, I am able to refrain from speaking when I shouldn’t!

    • 400daystil40

      May 4, 2012 at 08:52

      This made me laugh! Thank you! I wonder if we can package and sell that as a gossip cure???? laryngitis throat drops, perhaps??? 🙂

  6. Nice piece of work

    May 4, 2012 at 08:35

    Good one, and good timing – I am off to a family weekend later, haven’t seen lots of the people for ages – and don’t these occasions often lead to serious tensions… 🙂 I will try and remember your words, and try and engage my brain before I engage my mouth. x

    • 400daystil40

      May 4, 2012 at 08:53

      Thanks – I wish you well as you head to the family weekend. Yes, these events can be trying even with the best of families…… I personally have a large ocean between my family and I….. it seems to serve a purpose at times! 🙂

  7. The Quiet Borderline

    May 4, 2012 at 11:26

    Gossip is a bad thing. In Judaism, it’s even taught that one should avoid even talking good things about someone to someone else because it gives them the opportunity to come back at you and say bad things about the person!

    It’s very complicated!

    • 400daystil40

      May 4, 2012 at 19:09

      Yes, what a very good point! I need to remember that more often…… that my saying something good can still result in hearing something bad from another individual… wow, in fact, that happened to me today!!!

      • The Quiet Borderline

        May 5, 2012 at 13:37

        Yep. It’s certainly a tough thing to not get involved in. Saying good OR bad things!

  8. handustry

    May 4, 2012 at 14:11

    Have you ever noticed that in gossipy conversations, the rhythm of replies is very fast? It’s not a time when one can gauge his/her thoughts and say something with greater care. When I’m in these situations, I always try to remember saying something positive, because no one is absolutely wrong or bad. But, of course, I don’t always succeed.

    • 400daystil40

      May 4, 2012 at 19:08

      What a very good point! You are so correct…. wow, that will help me with a new perspective the next time I am caught in a similar situation.

  9. LauraLee

    May 4, 2012 at 22:09

    Ancient Hebrew tradition attributes a curse to a gossip… and a greater curse to the listener!
    Methinks they were right!

  10. Paws To Talk

    May 6, 2012 at 04:05

    We agree that some things are best left unsaid. There is no reasoning with someone who is in an altered state or incredibly stubborn. However, if you don’t say how you feel in some instances you might regret it. Another great post. 🙂

    Bella and DiDi

    • 400daystil40

      May 6, 2012 at 22:39

      Yes, so very true – it is a careful balance!

  11. Lucianus Mauricius

    May 7, 2012 at 06:51

    I have one rule I learned the hard way; when you have nothing good to say, nothing of value or insightful, just shut up and listen to the other person. I hate it when people just use cliche words just to semi show they care about you. Best to just shut the hell up

  12. Victoria Oldham

    May 7, 2012 at 19:30

    I told someone the other day–sometimes, people don’t need to know what you think. 🙂

  13. marsha4852

    May 15, 2012 at 08:42

    Great post, you kept it simple while hitting the nail on the head.


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