“The tongue…kills without drawing blood.” ~ Buddha

I don’t deserve any credit for turning the other cheek as my tongue is always in it. ~ Flannery O’Connor

I try not to look back with too many regrets but occasionally I can’t help wishing I could ride a time machine into my past and take back some of my more poisonous words.  Sometimes I wonder if I’m missing a link between my brain and my mouth.  Back in elementary school I would usually bring home a near-perfect report card except for one small area which never seemed small to me.  I almost always got an X in a section that said “Refrains from speaking and acting hastily.”  I wondered for a long, long time what that meant. I remember asking my mom about it.  She told me she thought it meant I talked too much.  She’d had some experience with my incessant talking. 🙂 She didn’t know any education jargon so it’s reasonable she would have thought that.  I’ve learned since that neither speaking nor acting was the key word here; the important word was hastily.

When I was a child riding a school bus every day, our buses, supposedly for safety reasons, had a governor that kept them from going over a certain speed.  I’m thinking my tongue could use one of those.  I still blurt out whatever comes into my mind sometimes.  I’m glad for some of my blurt-outs but sorry for others.  If I’m to be honest here, some of them are probably not so accidental.  For me, now, it’s a matter of impulse control.  And as an adult I can have pretty good control when I want.  But I’m also known for speaking plainly and without sugar-coating my words.  I naturally avoid pretense.  I’ve always been that way.  I think there’s a fine line between being tactful and lying.  Always tell the truth! was hammered into my head as far back  as I can remember.  How does a child always tell the truth without insulting some well-meaning aunt or grandparent?  My role models didn’t always hit that target.  Their inadequacy further complicated the issue and would probably make for an interesting post at another time.

This post has taken a somewhat different direction than I originally thought it would.  (Just like when I’m talking.) I had intended to cite some of my more heinous breaches of polite language.  Instead I will close with a word-to-the-wise about my tongue–a reminder, if you will, that I can choose to wound or heal, soothe or agitate, make laugh or make cry.  I can choose.  That’s the important message.  If the pen is mightier than the sword, the tongue is mightier than either.


I will speak with a straight tongue. ~ Chief Joseph, Nez Perce   

I will try very hard to speak with a straight tongue. ~ Pat

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18 thoughts on ““The tongue…kills without drawing blood.” ~ Buddha

  1. Thanks, Kim. It’s a huge leap from the “secrets” of growing up in an alcoholic family to my “whole damn truth” but I continue to make progress. A snail’s progress, maybe, but progress nevertheless.

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  2. I was very, very outspoken in younger days. I left a lot of hurt feelings and would probably have gotten a like card from your teacher.

    Now I’m still truthful, but I take care to find the right, precise truthful words. It feels much better that way.

    Thinking on my recent example of words harshly spoken, it feels miserable. It doesn’t matter that the context makes it comprehensible. What I remember are my words, and how those words fed the situation.

    Here is to the power of choice, and using what we’ve learned from past exchanges to update future ones!

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    • Me too, Deb, to all of your comments. I have learned to PAUSE briefly before speaking. Writing a public blog has also helped me to choose the right words more carefully. I admit that that aspect of blogging surprised me. Now I’m trying to figure out how to make readers see and understand my sense of humor. I have a keen one and in person people recognize it immediately. Stay tuned for a funny (I hope) post.

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  3. I also tend to lack the brain-mouth filter, but I have stopped worrying so much about it. It’s the way I am, I also say sorry when I hurt people. I can sometimes be a bit of an emotional responder, but it’s also part of my charm…
    🙂

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    • “Filter” is a good word for what I’m lacking. I agree that there is a certain charm in being an “emotional responder.” I’ve always been one. I think it shows our passion for the situation of the moment. Passion is mostly good, isn’t it? I’ve heard people say (about emotional responders) What you see is what your get. Or…You tell it like it is. Or…You don’t believe in whitewashing, do you? And the list goes on. I’ve never really considered these statements negative even though sometimes the speaker may have meant them that way.

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  4. Be impeccable with your word- Don Miguel Ruiz
    That’s what this remided me of…I think the word impeccable is wonderful. It means to be honest but also careful…honesty without fault or blame. I think that is my favorite of the 4 Agreements.

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  5. Girrrl, you are too funny. I was hoping you would “cite some of (your) more heinous breaches” so how about you make that your next post?

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    • I’m not sure what happened. I guess I must have chickened out on some level. Took me two days to write this one because I would take a break from my project and sit with the computer for a few minutes several times a day. That’s not the best way for me to write.

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