Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl

Galen Pearl


Why Am I Talking?

So much of the news today seems to be about what someone said on social media. Or what someone said in an interview or on the phone or in a meeting or on a blog or in a hotel room or inadvertently in front of a hot mic. Then other people have to talk about what was said. And others have to react. Then the person who initially spoke either doubles down or apologizes. Then people have to talk about it some more.

At least until someone else says something that eclipses the story and begins another news cycle. This usually doesn’t take very long.

It’s exhausting.

When my daughter was little, she talked nonstop. She had a husky voice. We joked that she was perpetually hoarse from all the talking and that we had never heard her normal voice. I was often her audience of choice, and she would follow me around, peppering me with questions that she didn’t even want an answer to. (I figured that out because she never waited for an answer before asking the next question.) She just wanted me to react. She talked until my ears hurt.

Sometimes I was the talker. I tended to explain too much when I was upset with the kids. Their eyes would glaze over. My son would hold up his hand in a stop signal and say in a robotic voice, “Talking…is…over.”

What is it about our need to talk? What is the nature of this urge? For us to contemplate this, we need to stop talking. We need to listen. Not only to others but to ourselves. Perhaps we are looking for connection. We want to be heard. We want to feel valued. We want to not feel alone.

I’m sure there are other reasons. But I suspect that a good part of our motivation to talk so much isn’t really about the content of what we are saying. And whatever the underlying need is, I suspect that it will not be met by using more words or a louder voice. Underneath all the screaming words, attacking words, manipulative words, lying words, judging words, complaining words, or even just too many words, I suspect we might find a reservoir of pain and fear.

If we could hear that in others, and recognize it in ourselves, perhaps our speech would take on a very different quality.

The acronym above is a wonderful reminder to pause and gently question our use of words. I like the Buddhist concept of “right speech.” Before speaking I can ask myself three questions about what I’m going to say.

Is it true?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?

And if I can answer yes to all the questions, then I might hold out an open hand to my son and say, “Talking…has…just…begun.”

14 thoughts on “W.A.I.T.”

  1. With me, you get silence until I feel comfortable. From there, I think it becomes, "I talk because I don't have a tail to wag". Feast or famine.

  2. Talking is easy. Listening is difficult. It requires concentration, understanding, analysing what is being said, forming an opinion, constructing an answer, waiting for when it is appropriate to answer, looking out for signs like body language, emotions, feelings etc … all this to be done simultaneously. Talking … without thinking … is easy.

    God bless.

  3. I agree, Victor. Deep, sincere listening is hard indeed. We have to stop talking — both the out loud talking and the in our heads talking — long enough to attend to the other person. Thanks for stopping by!

  4. "Is it true, is it necessary, is it kind . . ."
    If more of us would stop, look and listen before we speak, what a gentler and humane world this would be. Like you, Galen, I'm so weary of the vindictive dialogue in the news and social media. Though I still post my blog on certain venues on Facebook, I avoid Twitter if I can, and haven't ever been on Instagram or Pinterest. What a waste of time! At this point in my life, all I want to do is promote the positive, and deflate the negative.
    Blessings, my friend!

  5. Oh my dear friend; I loved this one. You are so right, we should ask ourselves those three questions before talking and it would solve a multitude of communication problems. I related to everything you posted about.
    I try hard to be a good listener and I know when I do that I am much better at correct and good communication.
    I too am tired of all of the media talk; it is exhausting.
    Thanks for your wise words today; you are awesome!
    Blessings and hugs for you~

  6. All this talk is like what goes on in our untrained minds, its one thought after another, after another until we become aware of this monkey chatter. The beauty of meditation is that it teaches us to watch our thoughts, and then we begin learning how to not identify with them. All this talking is just verbalized thought. One reason we have to talk so much is that we have a need to be right and we have our strong opinions to get across. Its no wonder that all spiritual traditions teach about the need to diminish the ego and become like little children.Little children have very little ego, its not developed yet. They have no strong opinions and are in a state of not knowing.

    I wrote a piece in my blog about that recently.

  7. I look forward to reading your post, Brian. I agree that meditation helps us slow down the journey from the thought to the mouth! I have been thinking a lot lately about the effect that opinions and beliefs have on our perceptions and on our concept of our own identity. Thanks for adding to the discussion.

  8. I wonder what we might learn if we measured the percentage of time we spend in a dialogue talking versus the percentage of time we spend listening. It might be very revealing! In the No Way Cafe group I lead, we practice what is called contemplative dialogue and sacred listening. We try to receive what each person says as a gift, without analyzing it or commenting on it. Thank you for your kind words, LeAnn. YOU are awesome!

  9. Lovely Galen, those last three questions were familiar to me from somewhere…they have a lovely rhythm to them and would make a great personal mantra to remember. It's ironic, because I'm a bit stirred up by social media related stuff to do with Amazon removing reviews to do with authors knowing each other in some way…I'm looking into it, but here's the point – i found myself needing to talk about it, share it, pass the info on, see what's going on and all that 'talking' has done is to stir me up, with the underlying feelin being annoyed at the taking of my control away from me. So i will go into my poppy bursting garden right now and just 'be'!

  10. Those three questions are associated with the Buddhist concept of right speech, so you might have encountered them in that connection, Lynne. Thanks for sharing your own story. That's interesting that the irritation was exacerbated by talking about it. Sometimes talking can release something we have kept bottled up, but your story makes me think that the key is how we talk about it. We can throw oil on the fire with our words by enhancing or complaining about a grievance, or we can release the pressure or power of a secret shame, for example, by sharing ourselves with a trusted confidant. Hmm, thanks for giving us more to ponder here.

Comments are closed.