Shut Up.

on Aug 30, 2011
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Stop talking for a second.

There’s already enough words on this planet. Everyone scaring everyone else. Everyone telling each other what they should do. How they can live a better life, what stocks should they should buy, how they can deal with their pain and suffering. What’s the meaning of this, or the thing wrong with that.

Just stop talking.

10 Possible Reasons Why You are Talking Right Now

–          Justifying yourself. They were wrong! How can she do this to me? How can he say that? They have to listen to my argument! I have every right to…

–          “That happened to me also!” You ever have a friend that’s like that? You say, “I’m sick from brain cancer and… “ and then they interrupt and say, “my friend’s cousin’s dad had that when I was growing up. He always used to give us lollipops and…” And then they never get back to asking you how you are dealing with your brain cancer.

–          Killing time. You’re on a date. It’s dinner. You never wanted to be one of “those” people. The old couple in the diner. They’d sit there looking at their food. So quiet. You never wanted to be a couple like that. 50 years later, no words left to say to each other. The love must be gone, you think. So we talk to fill up the time, prove our love, prove that there’s still something worth saying.

–          Self-importance.  I have something to say! Damnit! And everyone wants to hear about it.

–          So others can stop talking. If I’m talking it means I don’t have to listen to you. It’s my turn!

–          Sharing. “Ugh, my car broke and I have brain cancer and my wife left me and…” You call it sharing but you just want pity from others.

–          Fear.  I’m at a party and if I don’t talk then everyone will think I’m stupid.

–          Loneliness. I haven’t talked to anyone all day. I feel pain from that. I want to call someone and talk to them just to assuage this pain.

–          Showing off.   I want people to know about all these good things happening to me so that they maybe will think I’m better than they are. Or at least they will think I’m better than I think of myself.

–          Avoid thinking. If I can talk about my ideas, I don’t have to think about them first and whether or not they are good ideas. I can try to get affirmation from others first.

Of course there are good reasons to talk. But not as many as you think. I saw one piece of advice: put a quarter in your mouth. Now, in order to talk, you have to move the quarter over to your cheek. It gives you an extra second to think before talking. Although I’d mess up and accidentally choke on the quarter.

Or try this. Spend two hours where you don’t talk. Schedule it. That’s hard. Now try three. Now try an entire day. Or a weekend if you can.

The value of speech is a gift. We create entire worlds with words. But silence can sometimes create a better world. Ok, I’ve said too much.



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6 Responses to “Shut Up.”

  1. susan says:

    if times/days of silence are taken, it’s good design a method to let others know beforehand and during; people get even more annoyed when they don’t know why…

  2. Ben_Ralston says:

    Yep. Write on a piece of paper "Lost my voice" (in case anyone asks why you're acting 'weird'!) and then spend a whole 24 hours without uttering a word. One of the most revelatory, transformational things I've ever done.
    Suddenly you are free to simply observe…

  3. jyoti says:

    I have been waiting for some one to write some thing like this for a while now. You know some thing, Iwas told as a child not to talk,speak only when spoken to,this did nothing for my confidence. Infact it made me even more of a shy person and timid. So yes I did not speak for many years unless I was spoken to.
    How ever this lack of confidence and the retreat in to personal silence did me no good when trying to raise the alarms bells to inform my then grandmother who was raising me of the abuse I was suffering at the hands of my uncle. you see no one listen it took all my mighty strengh and power in my then small frame to speak out only on to deaf ears.
    Then moving on to my now laters year I am now a happy dare I say it chatter box who is continusly talking and say to all that have to listen to me,get used to it its part of me ,my pesonality and I will not change it.
    Now i have been quiet many a time have been on many meditaion retreats and practice vippassana ,but never ever tell some to shut up every one has there story to tell in there own way just show some compassion,thats all

  4. Curious says:

    Just curious, which of the reasons you mentioned in your article best summarizes why you wrote this article?

  5. All of them. Since I've started writing (about ten years ago) I try as hard as I can to impart each word, spoke or written, with value.

  6. Amazing… This is a great post. All of them true. All of them hitting that soft spot of recognition. One thing you haven't mentioned however is that keeping silent can also be as heavy. If it's keeping silent because of fear, self consciousness, inner criticism etc… So there's finding that natural balance between the two, I guess.