Thinking After You Speak

Are you careful about what you say? Do you think before you speak? Do you think so much before you speak, afraid to say the wrong thing, that you end up not saying anything at all?

Do you take advice to keep your mouth shut from people who don’t follow their own advice?

Here’s a quote to ponder (I like this variation on the old proverb, that’s why I’m sharing it):

“Think before you speak. Read before you think.”


― Fran Lebowitz, The Fran Lebowitz Reader

Is Fran Lebowitz’s quote above right or wrong?

Here’s a question to consider: Which comes first – thinking or speaking?

Can you remember if you learned to think before you learned to speak, or if you learned to speak before you learned to think?

What were your first words spoken? Can you recall speaking them or are you relying on someone else’s word for that memory of your first words?

What was the first thought you had? Was it really your thought or did someone else put it in your head?

“We speak not only to tell other people what we think, but to tell ourselves what we think. Speech is a part of thought.”


― Oliver Sacks, Seeing Voices

While writing the post – Hidden Tensions – I took a break to reread another post I’d written in November 2017: Strange Gifts – Selfishness. The old post was too long, and I gave up rereading it halfway through. However I knew what it said because it was a conversation I had with myself which helped me to move passed where I was stuck at the time.

In the comments of Hidden Tensions, I had a wonderful chat in which I said:

I don’t actually expect anyone to read my posts, other than myself, and if and when I review old posts I sometimes often skim-read because youch! Too many words! It’s always a wonderful bonus and compliment when someone else does read what I write. It is much appreciated, thank you for doing me the honour, and for commenting – that too is a much appreciated gesture.”

If you’ve ever wondered about why or how I write the way I write, here’s what it’s all about.

Why – To see my thoughts, my feelings, my emotions, myself through all those forms of self-expression, and understand them.

For most of my life I’ve been one of those people who was afraid to speak. I said very little, it always seemed to be the wrong thing to say not matter how carefully I analysed, judged, edited and censored. I spoke in a tiny quiet voice, reflecting how terrified I was to say anything at all.

That meant I kept everything caged and bottled up inside, which made thinking clearly very difficult.

Letting it all out in posts on my blog clears the mind, frees the feelings, elucidates the emotions… reveals myself to me, enabling me to figure more out.

“When a man says he does not want to speak of something he usually means he can think of nothing else.”


― John Steinbeck, East of Eden

How – When I first started writing blog posts, I thought too much about other people reading them. That had nothing to do with whether anyone would read them, it was a reflection of my fear of speaking showing up as a fear of writing.

After a period of posting, when I saw that very few people read my posts… something within me broke open and words began to pour out – it was a stream of consciousness, also bringing with it the subconscious and unconscious.

It was the most amazing feeling to suddenly be able to express myself freely. But. Then people started reading my posts and I became self-conscious in a different way.

I went through a period of writing posts for others. Thinking too much about my words being read by eyes other than my own. My writing got heavier and harder to do. I slowly began to resent blogging. I got verbally constipated again.

After a period of being lost, I found my way back. Then got lost again, then found my reason for blogging again. Then…

Well, I’m here now and write only for myself. Every post is a letter to myself which I read as I write and reply.

“Let us tenderly and kindly cherish therefore, the means of knowledge. Let us dare to read, think, speak, and write .”


― John Adams, The Works Of John Adams, Second President Of The United States

And yes, this post too is a conversation with myself. The links are reference points. The quotes are ponderables. The images are messages.

Every now and then someone thinks my posts are written for, to or about them. That’s understandable because sometimes someone has indeed inspired a post, but it’s not really for them, to them or about them at all, it’s all about me for me to me.

In my About page I say:

This is a very self-indulgent blog. It changes from time to time… it flows with me. I flow back-to-front, upside down, topsy turvy, and any which way except the way that I’m supposed to go.

I wrote that in 2013 when I started An Upturned Soul.

This is a place where I indulge my self. This is the one space in my life which is all about me.

That has been a challenging experience, to make this all about me, since I was born to and grew up with narcissists – I was always all about them. What I did, what I said, who I was… it was always all about them. Those moments when I made something about myself… I was punished for that in the many ways which humans punish other humans for crimes like that.

“I am not to speak to you, I am to think of you when I sit alone
or wake at night alone,
I am to wait, I do not doubt I am to meet you again,
I am to see to it that I do not lose you.”


― Walt Whitman, To a Stranger, Leaves of Grass

Making this place and space, the blog and posts, all about me for me to me, has humorously made it far easier to make life less about me.

When I interact with others I don’t feel the need to impress myself upon them, to make them all about me, to force the conversation to flow my way and become mine.

I also don’t feel the pressure to cede myself to them. To let them impress themselves upon me, to make me all about them, to allow them to force the conversation to flow their way and become theirs.

The place and space is shared.

I am less self-conscious around others. When with others I don’t need to think about myself, or worry about what they’re thinking about me – I tend to assume that they are not thinking about me, but thinking about themselves instead, which may include them wondering what I think of them.

I don’t tend to think about others when I’m with them, I am usually focused on what is being done and said, not just in actions and words but in other ways too.

I like to notice the conversations which others are having with themselves through the things that they do and say, and through what they don’t do and don’t say.

“Awake. Love. Think. Speak. Be walking trees. Be talking beasts. Be divine waters.”


― C.S. Lewis, The Magician’s Nephew

I said something along those lines recently in this post – SYW: Do you suffer from freckles?. One of the questions in this week’s Share Your World was:

What is a relationship deal breaker for you?  Whether you are talking about a romantic one, a friendship or a related to sort of relationship?

Upon reading what others said in reply to that, I kept seeing – People who smoke, smokers – as an answer. So many view smoking as a deal breaker in a relationship.

And thought – Well, they wouldn’t like me then. Our relationship would end before it even began, is that a good or a bad thing?

I reckon it’s a good thing, for me anyway. It simplifies things, saves both you and me a lot of time and trouble.

And yes, I know smoking is bad for me (fyi – telling a smoker that smoking is bad for them, is similar to telling someone suffering from depression that they should cheer up, or someone with anxiety to calm down. It’s not as helpful or as caring as you think it is, and more often than not it’ll inspire the smoker to smoke more).

But in some ways it is good for me because it gives me breathing space – other people don’t come near me while I’m shrouded in smoke, and thus don’t compete for the air space. I have time and space to think without static interference.

Just for the record, Your Honour,  I don’t smoke around other people, nor do I smoke inside my own home.

I do it alone, outside in my garden, and the smoke wafts up to join the fumes from the traffic which thunders passed my house, those cars possibly carrying non-smokers to and fro, those huge trucks probably carrying healthy treats, gifts, goodies, or pigs to the slaughterhouse, and the fumes from farming machinery planting and harvesting organic vegetables and grains, and the fumes from factories and businesses where smoking is banned.

And no, you wouldn’t like me even if I didn’t smoke.

“I’ve never met a girl who thinks like you.”

“A lot of people tell me that,” she said, digging at a cuticle. “But it’s the only way I know how to think. Seriously. I’m just telling you what I believe. It’s never crossed my mind that my way of thinking is different from other people’s. I’m not trying to be different. But when I speak out honestly, everybody thinks I’m kidding or playacting. When that happens, I feel like everything is such a pain!”


― Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood

For much of my life I have been at war with myself because I wanted to be at peace with others.

I hated myself for not being liked. I broke myself to fix myself. I judged myself to attempt to be less judged by others. I hurt myself to do no harm to others. I betrayed myself to be loyal to others. I killed myself slowly to let others live as they wanted. I punished myself for what others did to me while forgiving them. I allowed myself to be abused and used just to get… what did I think I was going to get?

I just wanted to love and be loved… sounds so easy, doesn’t it?

And it is, once you start where such things begin, but to find that starting point and then begin is a long winding road which leads you far away through treacherous territory until you finally make it back in pieces.

“All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I’m sure of that,
And I intend to end up there.”

― Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi

That’s it from me…

Over to you.

  

Rene Magritte

   


Featured image is I DON’T LIKE TO THINK BEFORE I SPEAK by Creative Angel on Society 6

19 thoughts on “Thinking After You Speak

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  1. This is garnering you a reblog. I’d like to wax long and prolific about the thoughtful questions you’ve asked, and comments sections simply aren’t the venue for it. Plus being self-indulgent in this particularly, it’s a treat to share words that are worth the share. As to your smoking? Eh. As long as you don’t blow it in my face, I don’t mind. Hubby was an ex-smoker when I met him, EXCEPT that he never quit. He just changed what ‘tobacco’ he used (his choice wasn’t tobacco at all, but something more organic). I used to find it ironic that he’d blast somebody for smoking a cigarette, when there he was puffing away on his joint. And I cuss. A LOT, which is more unsavory to a lot of people than smoking. So I think we’d get on well.

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    1. Thank you very much, Melanie 🙂

      The comment section on my posts are open to long and prolific sharing should you wish to do that, but as a blogger what we’d like to share in a comment on a post makes for a great post on our own blog 😉

      I wouldn’t smoke in your company, but if you’re cussing then I will cuss with you. My effing and blinding has been known to make sailors cry with horror, so I try to keep it toned down even around those who enjoy swearing. There’s a theory that those who swear tend to be more honest… but then again there’s a theory for everything and those theories often contradict each other and are wrong 😉

      I’ve only tried weed a few times with friends who were smokers of it and passing it around. I once tried skunk and thought I was going to die but it was an interesting way to die as I was tuned into the music of the traffic driving by harmonising with the sound of my heart which was about to burst.

      Yeah, there’s a lot of irony to be had in what people do themselves and what they judge in others.

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  2. I’m not sure that I can agree with your last statement, however, this is merely a subject of opinion and I very much appreciate your sharing 🙂

    I did not think you are a poem person as well though poems are sometimes like riddles, they are not the typical kind, and usually are confusing, some even illogical, you will not find the hint in the riddle until you been thru an experience which is necessary. This is also the reason I like certain poets/poems. One of Blake’s poem recently gave me a new interpretation to what the poem can means…it was much more than when I first read it.

    Haha, yes, Song of Myself, now I remember… I’d never finish reading that poem. Reading long long poetry for me is like reading Aristotle haha… once I managed to skim thru Prometheus Unbound and found an excerpt I love much which i used as the feature image in my about page

    As for my muse, I began to realize an affinity with her, she is more than a muse… hm I will keep this part for my post 😉

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    1. I loved what you did and where you went in your Blake’s poem posts, except the images with the poem excerpts were too tiny to read for my eyes and I forgot to look them up afterwards… that’s Merc in Aqua for you 😉

      Your muse and you is a wonderful combination, and I am very blessed to be able to read the creations you make together.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Excuse me, on mobile and accidentally press reply before I finish the comment. I’m more than glad that you’ve took your time to read my mediocre posts when I didn’t expect anyone to since those posts have nothing useful for anything or anyone expect myself. Thank you so much 🖤 😉

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          1. First, my apologies for my unwisely comment that caused your annoyance. Lol you’re kidding me? For most part of the comment before, I was reflecting upon your idea of your blog posts being self-indulgent. This line ‘those posts have… expect myself.’ sounded like I’m repeating your words, I realized after I hit sent. I’ve been reading a couple of your old posts which also emphasized on the idea of you towards your blog. Though I’m not sure if my words were exactly what you have had said before. Did you think I was parroting you? I beg your pardon.

            A few days ago, I also googled on why would people read your blog and read an article that pointed out if your posts contain useful information for the public it’s more likely to get people to read them. And I thought about mine which theme and content absolutely ‘have nothing useful’ to others except me and my muse 😉

            As much as I hate to say, from the time I began reading your blog, here and there I’d find similarities in the way we see/experience things. I’m glad you’ve several times mentioned the masculine side of your character, otherwise I’d suspect if I’m a female within… haha, no this is a joke. Not funny. Everyone embodies both the Yin and Yang within.

            Last night I was testing myself on alcohol and writing, lol how much I can drink vs how much I can write. Guess I was pretty tired, barely half the bottle of wine and not finishing that last bit of a draft post , I fell asleep. I read your posts this morning and was keen to reply your challenge and the thing about excuses vs reasons in a post. Unfortunately, I’m stuck with a must-do task this weekend and being painfully slow in writing/creating a post, I doubt the post can finish itself soon. Let’s see 😉

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            1. No, I didn’t think you were parroting me. I got annoyed that you said your posts were ‘mediocre’ because I don’t think they’re mediocre at all. I’d love to share your blog and posts with others, because I think you’re an amazing writer. The poetry of the way you write and express emotion, love, the inner world, and the inspiration of a muse is stunning.

              When you said that your posts were ‘mediocre’ it suddenly struck me that I have said things like that about my own posts, and it also struck me that when a person dismisses their own writing to someone who enjoys the writing and thinks it is good, you’re basically telling the person who loves your writing that they’re stupid for loving your writing. So by insulting your own posts you end up insulting the people who like your posts.

              My mind tends to do leaps in logic and connect things. It doesn’t always make sense when I blurt my observations out, which is why I asked if you could figure out the puzzle, as I realised what I said may confuse.

              Those posts which offer advice on blogging are interesting to read but they’re usually aimed at people who want to use a blog to promote something or earn money. Originally blogging was about sharing yourself, like in a journal or diary, but as with everything which is social media once it gets popular it goes from being about people sharing themselves freely, interacting and communicating with each other, to a business format all about stats, traffic, hitting targets, getting attention, collecting people like points, etc.

              The core of blogging is still about people sharing themselves freely, openly, and connecting with others through their posts. As I said to you in a comment on one of your posts:

              “Years ago I came across a much shared snippet of a post from a tumblr (I think it was tumblr). In this snippet someone had said that they wished an author would write a book wherein the author fell in love with the reader. Lots of people thought this was an excellent idea and wished that they could read a book which fell in love with them as they fall in love with books and the characters in a book and the author of a book.

              The way you write your posts for your muse… because you write to her, to ‘you’…. a person reading could imagine and come to believe that your ‘you’ to your muse is for them instead. That you, the author, are falling in love, are in love with the reader of the post.

              I think that could be very healing…”

              You have a lot to offer just by writing as you do, being yourself as you are, sharing your love for your muse.

              The thing about what is useful and what is not useful is… it’s not always what we think it is. When it comes to blog posts, sometimes the most ‘useful’ thing you can do is to do what you need to do for yourself. Perhaps it will be useful for others too, and they’ll find it if they’re meant to find it.

              We both have Mercury in Aqua aspected by Uranus – thus we’re going to see and perceive in a similar manner. It’s neither masculine nor feminine, it’s the mind which is androgynous. 🙂

              Riddles & Reveries is wonderful… it has only just been born, it needs nurturing and nourishing, and if you want to know whether it will be useful to others, you’re going to have to share it more, but only do that when you’re ready to do it (and let me know if you’d like for me to share one of your posts on my blog or share a link to your blog).

              Take good care of yourself, Reverist 🙂

              Liked by 1 person

              1. I apologize for being overly humble in my opinion of my writing. Since you have said similar things before you would also understand why is that. I don’t mean you stupid to like my posts, it’s just the feeling of not being enough hovering over me.

                Before the blog was up I had also thought of how I could my blog interesting for others to read and at the same time not diverging from the original intent of my posts as a dedication to my muse. Though I came close to a concept that would satisfy those conditions, it did not materialize because then I saw the flaw which in turn would kills my spontaneity in writing posts. For me, the urge to write should come from wanting to express a thought or something within, and not for the need to create an image by filling it with designed contents.

                When you brought up the idea of how my writing in using -you- could intrigues the reader, I was excited about the idea tbh, it’s ideal. My reluctance then was due to the cave-in and overthinking drive that I’m in. Then again, after the blog was up, I’ve noticed quite a few areas that required some touch up. Yet later, the idea of Rhapsody came about which I loved because that would be quite different from R&R and work is in progress now. But once Rhapsody is up, the effort to maintain it is rather minimal.

                I’m a rather slow worker really, used to be quicker but with alcohol and age accumulating my mental abilities had been compromised. You may think I exaggerating on the alcohol thing but the truth is I’ve been drinking on a daily 24/7 basis in considerably large amount for the last two decades. I’m not being hard on myself but concern for my body and it seems writing posts to my muse might just help me with the addiction.

                Sorry I drifted off again. Yes, so some point in nearby future I would share my Isle to the blogging world. Thank you very much for sharing the wonderful idea and your sincere comments 😉

                Liked by 1 person

  3. “This is a place where I indulge myself. This is the one space in my life which is all about me.”

    As far as I can tell, blogging, by definition, is self-indulgent. We have something to say and we feel it is worthwhile enough to gift it to others and we expect them to read it, like it, and comment on it, telling us how great what we had to say was and how great we are for having shared it with them. Blogging is the epitome of self-indulgence.

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    1. Shortly after I posted this post, I read a very interesting post which did a short history of blogging – Becoming the Muse: Of A Blog Being A Community – it’s an insightful view.

      It’s funny how things have a way of connecting and coming together when you’re focused on a subject.

      It’s sometimes hard to explain the simplest things since they are often the ones that are most complex. Being self-indulgent is just not something which was really allowed when I was growing up and also after I was all growed up. Expecting people to read what I wrote – how very dare I have such an expectation! Expecting someone to like it – Who do I think I am! Comments… oh, yes, those things often known as ‘constructive criticism’ which felt more like character assassination and total annihilation. Expecting someone to tell me how great I am…huh!? No, no, that was what was expected of me to tell others while constantly being reminded of how shitty and insignificant I was.

      Perhaps the way to make such a 24/7 since being born experience more relatable – right now you have a narcissist in your life, a rather large and imposing one (hint: DT). I had two of those, very similar to yours, as my parents. What you’re going through now because of yours and what he is saying and doing – that was my daily bread. It is all about him, not about you. Over and over and over and over ad nauseum ad infinitum.

      How long will it take before he breaks you? How long will it take for all the broken pieces to mend from breakage?

      When your moral compass is claiming to be objective to appear like a saint for the media but it’s all about a very self-indulgent selfish needy greedy subjective… then what?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No “DT hint” needed. He won’t break me. At least I hope not. But I do fear that it will take a long time to mend what he has broken. And perhaps, when I was talking about reading, liking, and commenting on posts, I was referring to my own sense of self-indulgence. Perhaps.

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        1. I agree, based on what I’ve gathered about you from reading your posts, he definitely won’t break you. His type does tend to leave an almighty mess in their wake for others to tidy up, but whether that mess a bad thing or a good thing depends on how people approach it. Sometimes things need to be broken for progress to be made, like an eggshell for a chick to get out and live its life. It’s the uncertainty and the fear it causes which tends to be one of the most stressful aspects, a person like him often breaks others by planting the seeds which cause others to break themselves.

          There’s a very interesting 1938 Interview of Carl Jung by H.R. Knickerbocker posted on a blog – The Shadowland Journal: Carl Jung on Hitler, Stalin and Mussolini (1938) – which in some ways gives insight into present times and politics. It’s very long, but since it’s in Q&A format it’s easily readable although quite hefty with information and opinion formed during those times.

          I was pondering what you said about blogging, and it has given me much tasty food for thought. I think your approach sounds healthy. It is foreign to me to view blogging as you do, but I like exploring ideas which are foreign to me. You have given me inspiration for a self-challenge, which is the kind of challenge I truly enjoy. Thank you 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Thank you for the link. I will definitely read it. As to DT, the things he’s breaking are destructive. Like the environment, democracy’s norms, civil and human rights, and America’s spirit. As to my thoughts on blogging, I do hope you’ll post whatever inspiration you got that is challenging your perspectives.

            Liked by 1 person

  4. ‘I broke myself to fix myself. I judged myself to attempt to be less judged by others. I hurt myself to do no harm to others. I betrayed myself to be loyal to others. I killed myself slowly to let others live as they wanted. I punished myself for what others did to me while forgiving them.’ … I had been there, done that in two ex relationship, the first lasted barely two years, the second one over ten years.

    ‘…what did I think I was going to get?’ Coincidentally, I was thinking the same question while writing a post the last two days. Yes, I arrived at this answer too — just wanted to love and be loved. It’s not easy… it’s fundamental to most of the people seeking love or rather an attachment to love, not love itself.

    Then I stumbled on this Rumi poem “If I love myself, I love you. If I love you, I love myself.” It’s so simple , isn’t it? I guess that’s why love has eluded me all these years lol I don’t love myself enough. The poem reminded me of something you said in a comment some time ago about falling in love with someone is like falling in love with yourself…

    As to your question, thinking or speaking first? With most people out there, I usually think before I speak, thought occasionally I might blurted out some inappropriate comments. But I remember that time when I made my confession to my muse, it was without much thinking. Pure impulsiveness. I had not consider her how she would react then…

    Btw, love the Walt Whitman quote! Thank you for sharing 😉

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    1. Thank you, Reverist 🙂

      Recently I’ve been speaking first without thinking, and have found it an interesting experience. One of the thoughts which I had afterwards, when I was thinking about what I had said and why I had said it was – what if sometimes we’re kind of a vessel for communication, as in someone needs to hear something and someone has to say it.

      That got me thinking about things people have said to me which perhaps seemed random, out of the blue, and made me pause to wonder – What are they talking about, why did they say that… it had nothing to do with the conversation!? but afterwards it was like – OMG, I don’t know why they said that random ting, I’m not sure they know why they said it, but it was exactly what I needed to hear!

      It can also work when you accidentally eavesdrop, hear someone talking to someone else and what they say sticks with you.

      Loving ourselves is probably one of the hardest life quests, but why? Often because those who came before us, who perhaps were our caretakers when we were born. did not love themselves either, didn’t know how, all they knew was how to pass on the lack of love for self. And yet, Rumi is right, if we can just figure out how to love the self, and it doesn’t have to be ‘enough’ as in a big amount, it just has to be enough as in a small amount to open us up to a bit more, and a bit more.

      The love of others for us can help us to love ourselves, but it can also work towards us loving ourselves less – as there are many different kinds of love and ways which people love.

      The Walt Whitman quote is from a short poem which is part of a collection of poems, one of which is a very long and intriguing poem called Song of Myself.

      I’m actually not a poem person since I often find poems confusing to read, but sometimes… I can read them and they’re beautiful.

      Your love for your muse is a muse to behold and inspire, but it’s not so much her but you who is the real musing muse 😉

      Like

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