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.― Mawlana Jalal-al-Din Rumi
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.”
That’s it from me…
Over to you.
Featured image is I DON’T LIKE TO THINK BEFORE I SPEAK by Creative Angel on Society 6