May your character speak more loudly than your words. – Mohamed Ayyed (author)
I come from an Italian family who holds nothing back. We are a family of honest creatures if nothing else. Everyone talks… a lot. And usually it is about each other. We do not hesitate to say what we think, about pretty much everything.
In the outside world, I had to learn to tame my wild tongue. The one that always had something to say whether you wanted to hear it or not. My father said to me one time, “That mouth of yours is gonna cause you some big trouble one day.” And boy was he right.
My honesty hurt feelings, lost some friends and gave me the reputation for being a little firecracker. So as I grew up and matured, I learned that speaking my mind was not always the best policy. Sometimes, staying silent said a whole lot more than words ever could.
I practiced silence when friends were gossiping. I didn’t want to be a part of the negative energy, and I learned it was a way to protect myself karmically from others speaking about me.
I practiced silence when I was being attacked by the one I used to love most. Defending and firing back did nothing more than fuel his fire. The people surrounding me kept repeating the same mantra, “You know what you do when he attacks you? Say nothing. Do not engage.”
At first I believed that saying nothing, especially in defense of myself, made me weak. I thought it made me a woman who was allowing others to walk all over her and take advantage of me. I thought it made me inauthentic to not speak up when I had something to say.
But here is what I came to learn… Silence has meaning.
Silence speaks when words cannot. Because sometimes there are no words that can capture the intensity of what we are feeling.
Silence allowed my ego its day of not getting in the last word. And there is something so classy and refined about not having to have it.
I learned that not everyone would mistake my silence for weakness. Others began to see my silence as strength. To be able to hold back from attacking and lashing out at someone was infinitely harder than letting my loose tongue roar.
I’m learning that if you really want to make your point, say nothing. Silence is a woman’s loudest cry. You know someone you love is really hurt when they stop speaking to you.
On the opposite end, silence can also be more powerful when we want to express feelings that make us weak in the knees.
After one particularly passionate and intense sexual encounter, I found I could say nothing afterwards. There were no words I could say to express what I was feeling and thinking in that moment.
I remember wanting to say something about what had just happened between us. Instead I said, “There just aren’t any words.” Something had just transpired that was not about sex… but about something deeper, something very healing. And had I tried to put words to it, I would have surely diminished the beauty of it.
So I chose to say nothing.
I’ve learned when being intimate, it is far sexier and infinitely more seductive to say nothing from your mouth and everything with your body.
“Shh… show me.”
I will not ever be the woman who holds everything inside. Or the woman who doesn’t speak up for what I want and what I believe in. But I have learned to pick and choose my battles and when to let my eyes and heart express my love.
I’m learning to discern when it’s important to be radically honest, and when it’s just better to sit back and allow things to play out without my interference. It can be really tough.
But I believe that sometimes we can help people most, including ourselves, when we just stay silent. Our silence will often speak louder than any words we could have ever spoken.
“Open your mouth only if what you are going to say is more beautiful than silence.”
Author: Dina Strada
Editor: Caroline Beaton