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Pause And Think Before You Speak

Take the time to choose your words and make good decisions.

Have you ever been in a situation where you got excited and accidentally spoke out without taking enough time to think and filter out things that could be misconstrued as controversial, or considered inappropriate and offensive to others? Have you ever experienced a situation where you recall something that causes your mind to immediately become flooded with negative emotional thoughts that triggered an uncontrollable urge for you to speak out, letting everyone who is around you know exactly how you feel? How can one small thought flood our mind and create so much negativity and anxiety, causing us to speak out uncontrollably?

Unfortunately, these things tend to happen when we're not fully aware of our thought process, or when we have pent-up unresolved emotional issues that must be expressed. Unresolved emotional issues are stored in the body and should be allowed to surface, via a thought that pops into your mind. In fact, you might say that emotions are similar to gas in the body that must come out sooner or later. If the gas in your body doesn't come out one way or the other, you may become sick. The same is true for unresolved emotions that are repressed in your body.

You should allow any unresolved negative emotions that are stored in your body to surface, so that they can be consciously expressed and resolved. However, there is a time and a place for those unresolved emotions to surface. Maybe the time is when you're alone, or having a one-on-one with a friend or family member. You probably want to avoid speaking out inappropriately or in error, when you're in a social gathering where someone might become offended by what you are saying.

Some people have a need to speak their mind and express their thoughts; even though it may be inappropriate and ill-timed. This type of behavior presents a problem that can have unpleasant and unhealthy consequences. Social interactions and skills are largely based on communication that often occurs through speech in real time, face-to-face, direct (pleasant or unpleasant) confrontation.

It’s said that a person is considered wise, until they speak. The ability to communicate through speech in real time, can create wonderful social interactions and plenty of opportunities, but not all social encounters turnout well for everyone involved in the conversation. Real time communications is a necessity that has both advantages and disadvantages. Participating in positive social interactions is an important part of living a happy and successful life. However, social communication and interaction can become an extremely complicated and challenging process.

Knowing how important and complicated social communications can be, it stands to reason that it’s unwise to speak out before thinking. It’s very difficult to listen, pause, and decipher what someone is saying; then quickly analyze what you are thinking, filter out the good and the bad and articulate your thoughts, all while you’re engaged in a real time, live, conversation with someone. It’s easy to understand why the process of “thinking before speaking” can be a challenge for a lot of people, and an uncontrollable chronic problem with others.

Thinking is internal speaking using our inner voice, while speaking out loud is external thinking using our outer voice. The main difference is that we try to filter and control our external output, such as what we say, how we say it, and who we say it to. Other reasons for speaking out without thinking may be caused by bad habits or emotional issues such as low-self-esteem and low self-worth, that can often be expressed by displaying a desperate need to entertain others, a need to fit in, a strong need for attention, or a need to prove to the world just how smart you are. Control and aggression issues are sometimes a factor in causing this disturbing behavior. Loneliness can also play a role in a persons' need to speak without thinking, in an effort to be liked and sought after. People who are angry tend to speak without control, and say things that they may regret afterwards.

More often than not, speaking without thinking has to do with a “bad habit” that has been reinforced and deep-rooted over time. We tend to react to other peoples' behavior, the environment around us, and our thoughts. We also react to our own self-talk, both what we say to ourselves consciously and subconsciously. These factors can also cause these issues.

We can all benefit by learning to take the time to think before we speak, and adopting this good habit into our lifestyle. Following are a few tips that can help you to improve your ability to pause, think, and then speak.

  • Remain awake and aware of your situation. It’s your responsibility to observe your behavior and what you say. It’s also your responsibility to observe the behavior of other people, and analyze the conversation, so that you can interpret what is really being said. Will the situation produce pleasant or unpleasant results? "Be Quiet, Observe, and Think".
  • Fully understand what you’re doing and what you’re saying, before you speak.
  • The ability to respond quickly shows wit, but taking the time to think so that you’re able to articulate well-thought out, and accurate answers, is far more important. Take all the time that you need to formulate the words and the message that clearly expresses what you want to say.
  • What you say reflects who you are, so choose your words wisely. You are investing in the words that you select, to create the results that you want. Once those words come out of your mouth, they are not going back in. You may be forgiven, but you cannot undo what you’ve done.
  • You have two ears and one mouth for a reason; so you can listen more then you can talk. Active listening means that you are fully engaged and concentrating on what is being said, trying to hear the true message and the meaning of the speaker.
  • Talking quickly probably means that you’re saying whatever comes to mind, without giving yourself enough time to think. Talk slowly and respond slowly.
  • It’s hard to talk and listen at the same time, and it’s hard to talk and ponder simultaneously. Figure out what you’re doing, and then do it well, before proceeding to do something else.
  • Sometimes less is more. You don’t always have to talk or be active in the conversation to participate and enjoy yourself. It’s also perfectly acceptable to be in a situation where everyone is quiet. It’s only awkward if you think it’s awkward. You might find that sitting in silence awakens your senses, so that you can enjoy a spiritual experience with the people around you.  
  • Learn what works for you and what doesn’t.
  • Be kind and thoughtful to others by selecting topics that they are interested in talking about. Not every conversation has to be about you, and what you want to talk about.
  • Get in the habit of turning on your thought filters before you interact with someone, or when you are walking into a social situation where you will interact with people.
  • Before you speak, pause for a second or two, so that you can filter your thoughts and avoid making facial expressions. Then continue with your conversation. It's perfectly OK to take even more time to gather your thoughts before you react to someone's' remarks and behavior.
  • That tiny break to just pause and delay can make huge difference in helping you to create a pleasant and successful communication experience.

Getting in the habit of consciously pausing to filter out unwanted negative thoughts and comments may take some time, and a little work, but it's well worth the effort.

There’s a good reason why we’ve heard "Practice, Practice, Practice", throughout our lives. Practice and develop your social communication skills so that you can experience wonderful moments with other people. Social communication is a lifelong ongoing process that you may never master, but you can greatly improve your skills.

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