Read on to find out how to think before you speak. A few simple tools in your toolbox will make all the difference. With every new family gathering and work parties in your life comes the opportunity to wish you hadn’t said “that”. I’ve been there and am here to offer advice.
Often I’ve mentioned how I write a lot of these blog posts as advice I need. I assume if I need help with these things, then so does someone else. I have a problem with impulse. Actually, often my impulse helps me, but when it comes to disagreements, tough conversations and the like, that impulsivity is a major detriment in my life. How can I learn to think before I speak?
How can I learn to think before I speak? Great question, and congratulations on realizing you need help with this. Actually, learning to pause before you speak is a simple practice but it takes time and a heavy amount of self control.
Where Do I Begin?
Start with Prayer.
Who knew I was going to head there? Of course I’m going to start with prayer. Whenever I’m trying to help my life improve, I always turn to God. I can do very little without His support. This impulsive speech of mine isn’t a “little” issue. It’s quite large and I need a lot of help. See I also struggle with self-control, and I can assume you may as well because the two, impulse and self-control, go hand in hand.
If you’re going to start working on something as large as breaking a bad habit, you must ask for God’s guidance.
Teach Yourself to Take Some Breaths.
Sometimes the simplest step you can take is to just do it. One of my favorite Radio Personalities used these wise words once… “If you want to answer the question ‘How do I…?’ all you have to do is do it.” What he means by that is, this: If I ask the question “How do I stop eating so much?” the answer is “Stop eating so much”. How do I find more time for my family? You find time for your family! Make sense to you?
Let’s answer the question, “How do I stop and think before I speak?” The answer is to stop and think before you speak. So teach yourself to pause. You can do this be taking two breaths before you give any sort of answer or rebuttal. Coincidentally, this could also be a time you decide to pray, “Lord help me find the right words.” This little tool will be difficult at first, but eventually it will get easier, and eventually it will grow into something more profound. Just start small for now.
Don’t be Afraid to Stay Quiet
Not all comments from others deserve our responses. Even if they’re saying something you feel passionate about. Here’s my example. I once had a woman argue with me about abortion. She admitted if she would have known there was anything wrong with her child before his birth, she would have aborted him. I stayed quiet. She felt the need to speak further and said, “quality of life”.
This hit me so hard! If there are two things I’m most passionate about it’s choosing life over death for unborn babies and helping others see the quality of life in our special needs community. I had loads of arguments I wanted to fling at her, but I didn’t.
If this woman had the nerve to look at her child already born and tell me she would have aborted him had she known beforehand he would have struggles in his life, then I had little chance in changing her mind. Most of the time we have little chance in changing other people’s minds. People don’t want their minds to be changed and tune out what you have to say. The best thing to do is to stay quiet, pray for the person, or pray for the situation, or whatever you feel needs to be prayed for at that moment.
Accept One Another’s Differences
Understand others are entitled to their thoughts and opinions. If you want to change their opinions showing them “your way” is going to be more effective than telling them “your way”. What does this mean? Do not hide your feelings on the subject. If you take the advice to stay silent during the conversation at that time, don’t be too timid to mention your thoughts on it at a later date.
Continuing with the anecdote above, I did have a chance to say how I felt about abortion and special needs. It came up in conversation a couple months later and I was given the opportunity to address it first. She obviously still didn’t agree with me and tried to debate it at that time. I talked a little until I could see it was causing more harm than good, and so I decided to change the subject.
This is what has helped me the most. Sometimes I can be a fast talker, but if I slow down my physical movements, then I’ll slow down my thought process a bit, and in turn I’ve found a little time to think before I speak.
Something Else to Consider:
If you started to use your non-dominant hand to do daily tasks like opening doors, brushing your teeth, cooking, and beyond. Would you be able to slow down appropriately? Would it help you be more mindful in what you’re doing? Perhaps give this a try to help you be less impulsive.
Try this out and see if it works for you. Don’t get down if you can’t do it first try, or even on your 50th or 100th time. It’s a work in progress! Just trying and working towards something better is phenomenal on its own! Congratulate yourself on that and keep pushing forward.