I was told to shut up twice last week. The first time went something like “Please stop talking to me.” It took me three days to grant that request and only after someone else said “Patricia, I’m trying to help you so I want you to be quiet and listen to me just like you listen to BabyGirl.” I looked over at my daughter, exhaled, stopped thinking and listened for the first time in a long time.

Thoughts whirl through my mind in no specific order. Round and round they go. Some circulate for a day, some for months, others for years. At their loudest, neck pain and headaches ensue. At their quietest, it’s a good day. I can live with that. What bothers me is when the thoughts spill out of my mouth. That’s what I’ve been doing for months.

I keep talking, and talking, and talking, saying nothing but talking all the time to the point where my jaw hurts, my brain hurts, my soul hurts, and my relationships hurt. I keep telling myself to shut up but I can’t do it, can’t control of myself. A little quiet can go such a long way but I can’t hold on to it for more than a few seconds. I was nearing the breaking point and turning ugly when I was told to listen to others like I do with BabyGirl.

Overall, the week has gone well. I look at the speaker and focus on their words. If I struggle, I pretend the person is BabyGirl. If my mouth starts working itself toward interrupting, I clench my jaw and refocus. Since I’m far from perfect, there have been a few slip ups but practice makes perfect. Listening to others without adding to their words is stressless – which is great, and there’s another, more important benefit. I’m rediscovering people right now, appreciating their thoughts, and getting closer to them.  There might be hope for me yet.

How do your thoughts take over your mouth? How are your listening skills? Is there someone in your life who needs to shut up?


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  1. #1 by Caroline Kaiser on April 10, 2012 - 9:19 AM

    I applaud the honesty of your very well-written post, Patricia. I’m quite the opposite of you, I think. I’m frequently in the listener role, and I edit my thoughts and sometimes need a big push to express them. I’ve often felt that in a group situation, people talk over me, and I often avoid group situations for that very reason. Your post made me really think about what it must be like for you to feel that you need to override what comes naturally to you and rein yourself in.

    • #2 by Patricia Caviglia on April 12, 2012 - 8:20 AM

      It’s the talking over people part that really gets to me. It’s so disrespectful although I don’t mean to disrespect anyone.

  2. #3 by Ellen Gregory on March 30, 2012 - 9:28 PM

    Lovely post, Patricia. And, as others have said, brave. We’re all different 🙂

  3. #5 by rabiagale on March 30, 2012 - 4:28 PM

    This is a brave post. I’ve long known that I need to keep a rein on my tongue (though with me it’s more about how I say things versus talking a lot). Words hurt as much as they help, which is the flip side of a career that’s all about communication.

    • #6 by Patricia Caviglia on March 31, 2012 - 12:21 AM

      I have to admit that the “Please stop talking to me” request surfaced after I said something hurtful. I totally get it Rabia.

  4. #7 by Tami Clayton on March 30, 2012 - 4:16 PM

    My comfort zone is to sit back, listen and observe rather than fully participate. That’s what I struggle with – pushing myself to speak up, to jump in, to stop editing every freakin’ thought to death. Listening is a valuable skill and kudos to you for taking in your friend’s feedback.

    • #8 by Patricia Caviglia on March 31, 2012 - 12:19 AM

      Years ago, I read that self-criticism is like a deep river. To stop the self-criticism, you have to portage to the shallow river where your positive thoughts flow and keep following that river. Eventually, it will become deeper than the self-criticism one and you won’t have to portage as often. I don’t know if that could help in your struggle “to stop editing every freakin’ thought to death.” Maybe you could portage to the listen river or the talking river?

  5. #9 by Julie Farrar on March 30, 2012 - 3:19 PM

    The problem with being a writer is I have words to spare and no one wants my extras. It’s like the end of July when people threaten me with bodily harm if I dare offer them another zucchini from the garden.

  6. #11 by Alina Sayre on March 30, 2012 - 2:46 PM

    Beautiful, Patricia: it’s so true, sometimes (especially as writers) we think it’s all about the talking…I’ve been realizing that the gift of my time and listening ears is what most of my relationships really want. It’s a true expression of love to listen.

    • #12 by Patricia Caviglia on March 30, 2012 - 8:16 PM

      So true. I’m amazed at the comments I’m getting on this post and how many of you can relate.
      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

  7. #13 by Emmie Mears on March 30, 2012 - 12:46 PM

    Great post — I was the opposite for years. I never spoke because everyone around me never let me finish my thoughts. This post made me think.

    • #14 by Patricia Caviglia on March 30, 2012 - 12:55 PM

      That’s interesting. I’ve been in that position too and it’s not very validating.
      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

  8. #15 by Annmarie on March 30, 2012 - 12:06 PM

    Wow, Patricia. This is a brave and authentic post…bravo! I don’t know if this is the case, but many children (3-12) who experience an overload of negative verbal expression, end up using excessive talking as a defense when they are adults. Interesting, huh? You’re on the right track by exercising your gift as a writer! There are a few activities that can help…one would be to check out Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, specifically Habit 5-seek First to Understand, Then to be Understood. Hope this helps! It helped me 🙂

    • #16 by Patricia Caviglia on March 30, 2012 - 12:50 PM

      Thanks for all the info. What you said about kids strikes a cord for sure.
      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

  9. #17 by lwsapir on March 30, 2012 - 11:39 AM

    Ah, such a good reminder to work on listening…no matter how good a listener someone is, it’s something you can always get better at! 🙂
    And…the gnocchi tricolori sounds deeeeeelicios. Where’s my invite? 🙂

    • #18 by Patricia Caviglia on March 30, 2012 - 12:48 PM

      Lol! I think we need all the southern ON WANA peeps together for drinks sometime soon.
      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

  10. #20 by patriciasands on March 30, 2012 - 10:20 AM

    Uh oh – I’m SO looking forward to your gnocchi tricolori on Saturday but now this post has me worried. Will I be spending time with the silent you or the chatty you? Um, well y’know it really doesn’t matter – they’re both good!

    • #21 by Patricia Caviglia on March 30, 2012 - 12:44 PM

      BabyGirl will be there. I’m sure she’ll entertain us.
      Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

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