By: Devin Riggs, Regular Contributor
I have a tendency to speak before I think. I’m always one for a quick and witty comeback dripping with sarcasm. As one of my friends points out often, I am a bit of a gossip. In certain cases, I find I am an over sharer, and I don’t always know how to hold my tongue when I ought to.
A few months ago I came across an article, “Could You Go 40 Days Without Being Mean?” My initial reaction to the title was, “I’m not mean. This doesn’t apply to me.” And then I started reading about the author’s experience as she attempted to speak “medium-soft” for 40 days. It was an eye-opening moment for me to realize that while I may not be mean, not everything I say is kind, meaningful, or productive.
Since reading the article I catch myself yelling at drivers in bad traffic. I complain about little things. I swear at inanimate objects. When I’m uncomfortable, I use sarcasm as a coping mechanism. A few days ago, due in large part to exhaustion, a general bad mood, and mild frustration, I went on a rant about some personal issues I had with someone in the presence of several mutual friends. This conversation led to guilt once I realized it was neither the time nor the place to air my discontent. It was not going to fix the situation and would probably only make it worse.
According to Craig Ferguson in one of his stand up comedy acts (warning: language) there are three things you must ask yourself before you say anything.
- Does this need to be said?
- Does this need to be said by me?
- Does this need to be said by me now?
It’s a pretty simple idea when you think about it. It’s a much harder concept to live by in light of social media and high-speed communication. As Ferguson points out, we are no longer forced to reflect on our words before throwing them out into the universe. Our immediate thoughts can be received with a single click of a button. With the internet, we are sheltered and protected by anonymity making it even easier to speak without regard for how it might be taken.
After a lot of thought and consideration, I’ve decided to take on the challenge. I want to speak softer. I want to exude positivity instead of negativity. I know it will be hard to break these habits, and I will mess up a lot. I will most likely become frustrated with myself, and yet I am excited. Starting today I will be kinder, more aware, and more careful with my words.
Let's chat. Do you ever catch yourself emitting negativity through your words? In what ways can you "speak softer"? Share with us here!
Devin has a degree in education with a focus in English. She is working to publish her first collection of poetry while also learning the art of patience. Her passions include Doctor Who, penguins, hats and scarves, potatoes, dancing, photography, and making people happy. She believes in the healing powers of music, spending time in the great outdoors, and a good night sleep.
image via redhairandrunningshoes.blogspot.com