The Year Of Taming My Tongue

OK, here it is — a new year is upon us, and that always has me thinking of what I want different. What is it that I want to change this year?

by Lee Baucom, Ph.D.

So here is my change to focus on: taming my tongue. Understand, I don’t use profanity (OK, sometimes when I am hammering get my finger instead of the nail. . .), I rarely raise my voice, and I do not name-call. So what am I taming?

I read an article that I can no longer locate. It stated there are three questions we should ask ourselves when we are speaking:

1) Is what I am going to say true?

The first question challenges us to be truthful in all that we say. How many times do we avoid saying something because it might cause a problem? And how many times do we say something that is either false or only partly true? So the first question to pose is “is what I am going to say true?”

2) Is what I am going to say kind?

Unfortunately, our tongue — our speech — is an incredibly powerful force. I can still remember things said to me, good or bad, that were spoken well over 30 years ago. One person recently told me that he does not like to fight, because when he argues, he or the other person may say things that are hurtful (and not really true, just “fighting words”). And once the words are out, they can’t be taken back.

Often, I find myself saying things that are funny (at least to me!), but not always kind. Sometimes I tease my kids. Really, I just make a twist on what they are saying, but I can see it frustrates them. My words may not be mean, but neither are they kind.

3) Is what I am going to say important?

Here is a question that must make us all pause and think. Perhaps your first reaction is that if it has to be important, there will not be much talking. Perhaps, but sometimes I wonder what would happen if we gave up on meaningless talk, and committed to making talk meaningful. Our words are incredibly powerful, but we treat them like they are free!

And sometimes, the importance of words are in their connection. It is not so much about providing great depth of a philosophy debate. But it is a connection that bridges the separation that people tend to feel in this day and age. So, light conversation may be as important as a deep debate.

So, that’s one of my resolutions for the year:

I will focus on the three questions as a way of taming my tongue, and most importantly, of helping loved-ones feel more loved.

Will you join me in the challenge? Will you take on your own tongue?

Lee Baucom, Ph.D. is a best-selling author, therapist, coach and speaker, and has over a quarter of a century of experience helping couples and individuals learn to thrive in their relationships and their lives. He is the creator of the internet marriage program, Save The Marriage.

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