Friday, March 16, 2012

If You Can't Say Anything Nice...

I recently heard a sermon that inspired a change in my life (thank you, pastor). So, it being Friday and all, I have decided to share it with you.

The sermon consisted of several steps to becoming a spiritual person, and one of the main steps was to "speak less." There are several proverbs that indicate as well that speaking less, if at all, is actually the wisest thing (Proverbs 17:28 for instance). I realized with all the social media, and my blog (oops) that I actually do a LOT of talking. For the sake of argument I shall relegate this post to my use (and abuse) of Twitter and my big mouth.

This may come as a shock to you, but I actually harbor resentment towards people sometimes and I also pride myself on a pretty impressive vocabulary, a lethal combination. So, when I am upset with someone you KNOW I am talking about it. But I also came up with another idea: the passive aggressive tweet. This is a tweet in which I would reply to various other tweets without replying, so it would just look like I was tweeting (for those of you who are not Tweeters, I apologize for any confusion).

For instance, if someone I did not like tweeted "Can't wait to go to the grocery store," I would randomly, hours later, tweet something like "Hope you enjoy your meatballs, carnivore," and other things like that. I know, this is SO immature, but hey, I am a work in progress!

In the spirit of self-improvement, I decided to try "speaking less" AND "tweeting less." This has revolutionized my thought process. Anytime I wanted to tweet something less than savory I stopped myself and thought about why I felt the need. I asked questions like "Does this person need to know I am upset?" "Would they care?" "Would what I have to say help them or only help me?" "Is it worth perpetuating the conflict within myself in order to say something hilarious?"

These questions and more made me realize that processing my anger through negativity was hindering my growth and happiness. By speaking less I am able to reflect on and examine my motivations in speaking at all. There is a huge difference between catharsis and self-service, and I was only serving my own desires with my spoken words.

So fine. No more talking or tweeting when I am upset about something right? WRONG. I discovered a long time ago that I wear my heart on my sleeve along with awesome bangles. Bottling up emotions simply is not in my genetic makeup. But what do I do if I can't tweet!? After writing a blog post of course (just kidding, kinda), I realize that there are ways to vent my frustration through safe and positive channels. First, of course, I can address the source of my angst if necessary and solve the problem. When this is not an option, I turn to the amazing friends I have (who still for some reason think I am cool in spite of my idiosyncrasies). I also have super intelligent parents who have a perspective on the world that really opens my mind and my heart. By speaking less and listening to these people more, I have gained a new understanding not only of myself, but of how to become a wiser, more gracious person.

Don't worry, reader, I still fly off the handle sometimes. But I strive to keep my mouth (and my Twitter app) closed in order to think about my words and their consequences. My two best conclusions: "If you can't say anything nice, say nothing at all," and "Actions speak louder than words, and sometimes no words can be the greatest action." Take the time to think about why you feel the need to "say," at all.

This weekend I encourage you to think about speaking less and learning/listening more. I am certainly still working at it, but it really is an enlightening thing. Be judicious in being completely silent though, especially if you're hitting on a cute dude at a bar. You never know how that may turn out. Have a great weekend! Happy St. Patrick's Day!