Recently I wrote, “Why Don’t I just Shut Up?” for my Psychology Today blog. For PT, I have to write more professionally, and less personally. There were things I thought of putting in that post that I opted to leave out. Hopefully you’ve already read that post. (If not, click here). This one will discuss my mindset and where inside me the post came from. (Ironic, Right?! Writing more about shutting up…) A few things led to me wanting to add this:
First, I’ve been interested in supplying underlying thought in the past, likely partly due to wanting people to “get me”, and partly so people don’t see me as better than I am. Writing, being a therapist, teaching psychology, may give the impression I have my stuff together. Although I’m certainly not close to being institutionalized currently, I have my issues like anyone.
Second, I’m currently reading “Icarus of Brooklyn” by Matthew Alper. This book seems to (I’m not quite through it) illuminate how he came to write his book “The God Part Of The Brain”, which I thought was excellent. I’m really enjoying this book, and it has motivated me to consider writing a book explaining how I came to write the one book I’ve had published…
Third, I’m currently teaching the course “Theories of Personality”. Most of the chapters which cover a theorist, explain a little about the theorist so that students can understand how he or she came to his / her theory. It is interesting to see how their life events affected their theory of motivation and personality development.
I suppose I’ve been trying for the last, let’s say 50 years, to be quieter. In the beginning it was largely due to my parent’s insistence (I’ve always been quite talkative) and because the men I’ve idolized most, from my grandfather to early film idols, were quiet men’s men. For at least the last 10 years or so I’ve been focused on creating more peace in my life. This is difficult for me, because throughout my life I’ve had an attraction to the dramatic. Drama and peace seem diametrically opposed…
As of the last few years I’ve come across the idea that Right Speech will contribute to more peace. Right Speech is a part of The Eightfold Path to Enlightenment in Buddhism. Although I do not follow all of the dogma of Buddhism (and generally don’t consider myself a Buddhist) and although I disagree with some of the dogma of Right Speech (for example using either sarcasm or exaggeration as humor is frowned upon), the idea has its merit. A Buddhist teacher said, “If you can’t control your mouth, how do you expect to quiet your mind?” This is an excellent thought.
Understanding quieting my mouth, being more conscious of what I say, can bring me closer to peace; I’ve spent almost the last full year working on it. Before my most recent focus on it, I stopped putting up daily quotes. All of these things had already been said, and likely heard, by many. So why would I need to repeat them? Although in some ways this is in line with right speech (quotes can be seen as inspirational) I felt it was unnecessary speech, and ceased it. When I made that decision I explained some of what I am reiterating here (to read that post click here). I even wondered if any speech is really necessary. In the PT article I make note of speech that serves a positive purpose. Even so, an argument could be made it is also unnecessary.
When I was writing that post, I had a paragraph about my article on politics (read that one here). I discussed how, in reality, although when I was writing it I felt it incredibly helpful and important, a great deal of what I was saying had been said. In fact, I combined two other authors work in the article. Although I believe some of the article to be original, technically, I am just taking others ideas and synthesizing them. Everything I’ve said has been said before. Everything. Every article. In fact, I think the same can be said for about 99% of self-help writers. I actually thought making “Why Don’t I Just Shut Up” my last post would be an excellent way to end. But I won’t, I enjoy writing too much and don’t seem ready to just disappear just yet.
Another reason most speech could be considered unnecessary can be found in my post “The Truth Will Not Set You Free.” In that post I discuss how what people believe is the truth is really just their perception. In the post about politics, I discuss how this perception, according to Object Relations Theory, is simply our unconscious projecting onto others. Thereby, if what I perceive has been filtered through my lens, there has to be some inaccuracy.
With all this knowledge I am purporting (that I’ve already put forth, both here and elsewhere, possibly making this post as unnecessary as any and thereby again failing “Right Speech”) you might be wondering how I am doing with my goal. Well, I suppose it is how you rate it. If you rate as compared to say, someone who is proficient at Right Speech, I am an utter and complete failure. But if I compare my current speech to my speech of some time ago, I’ve made improvement. I estimated my improvement as 50% of the time (the time I consciously remember to be mindful of my speech and less spontaneous) I do 30% better. It is only about 15% improvement overall, and at times it seems (and feels) like I’m making no progress.
I mention in my post “That’s Just How I Am” that I have been working on this, and the comment of my daughter’s boyfriend’s brother. As most around me are aware I am trying to be quieter, my daughter recently compared me to a character she saw in a movie. My favorite movie of this year is “Seven Psychopaths”. Although I can relate to several of the characters, my daughter made the point to her boyfriend that the character played by Christopher Walken is how I am trying to be. It is an accurate assessment. Although he talks more than an ideal mentor would, he seems to choose his words, is much more positive than negative, and has a sense of peace about him in the movie that is unshakable, despite horrible things happening to him. His way of being is certainly admirable, and I would be ecstatic (though, of course, also serene) to get to that level.
Perhaps by continuing to be mindful of it, catching myself when I wander from the goal and refocusing, I will get there.