I used to talk a lot. Thoughts would come into my mind and out my mouth without a beat. Whatever was going on inside I was going to share, because what was I supposed to do, hold it in? Muffle my voice? Not be true to who I was?
Well, what I didn’t know then was that words are powerful. I didn’t understand that they meant something. Yes, that may sound absurd, but it took me a very long time to see a purpose behind my speech.
Before I would speak without intention. It was a kind of unconscious talk – a lot of what escaped my lips was irrelevant, useless, unhelpful, rude, judgemental, egotistic, and forgettable.
It was maybe two years ago that I went to an event and Bill Clinton was speaking. He said something that really stuck with me. It was along the lines of, your job as a writer is to write something worth remembering.
And I would go as far as to say that as individuals it is our role to use words worth remembering.
If we think about this a bit more it’s possible we may not need to express ourselves as much as we think we do. It may be that what’s coming out of our mouths isn’t honest, but exaggerated or maybe it’s gossipy, or simply unhelpful. I would say sometimes what comes out of our mouths isn’t something we or the people we’re with want to or would even need to remember.
After hanging out with people I would usually get into a car with whomever I was with and talk about them – I didn’t think I was doing it in a mean way, but I was commenting on other people’s lives, which was secretly on the inside enforcing a better than or less than attitude. I noticed myself doing this for the first time when I started seeing my now husband. I would talk and he wouldn’t. He never said anything about anyone we’d been with. Because of his response I started thinking about my own.
Why was I speaking?
What about my words was helpful?
What about my words was worth remembering?
They were comments – nothing anyone could interact with or respond to.
That was five years ago.
Five years ago I filled my world with a lot of noise, but today, you know what there’s a lot more of in my relationships? Silence.
Realizing I didn’t have to talk or say everything I was thinking the minute it came in was freeing. It was powerful to sit in silence and not have to fill the space.
Letting the silence speak my commitment to being kind, honest, and helpful is sometimes all that needs to be said.