We can all look back at times in our lives where less talking and more observation would have made the world of a difference. If we would have kept our mouths closed we wouldn’t have offended some people, experienced unnecessary dramas, lost out on good opportunities, and could have handled issues better. Had we made more of an effort to observe people or situations we wouldn’t have wasted our time entertaining nonsense, wrongfully judging, or stuck stagnant in an environment we didn’t belong.
Oftentimes, it takes us losing to ultimately figure out the best ways to win. Understanding the power of the tongue is the same way. Through trial and error, we realize that our words, or lack there of, have the power to build or destroy. Only then do we understand that the ability to be still, silent, and observant is a strength in itself. Restraint has the power to teach us more about ourselves, relationships, and environments than anything else ever could. We just have to know how to play the cards right.
Call a Spade a Spade: Check Yourself
Want to self assess, figure things out, or find balance in your life? Take multiple steps back, step away from social media, and make a conscious effort to sit in your own solitude. Whether the decision to simply exist comes after the best, worst, or most confusing time in your life; the revelations, realizations, and rest you will get will not only shock you, but also open your eyes to some truths about life and the role you're playing in it. When I stopped engaging and trying to be everyone’s friend; I sat back, listened, and learned more than I ever bargained for.
So much was revealed to me: how people treated me whenever I suddenly wasn’t of use to them, how the world works, and the many ways I wasn’t living or thinking the way I should have been. Though I felt and looked like I was breaking, looking back I see that I grew the most during those times. It took silence to grow with God, hear the way I speak to myself, and understand life as it was. The thing about silence is that it’s never misquoted, yet it’s oftentimes misinterpreted. That's when I realized the people that heard and felt my silence versus those that were so desperate to be in the know or have some sort of involvement that they will almost accept anything that fills in the blank that silence created. My closed mouth opened my eyes and ears more than ever before.
Poker Face: Restraint is a Resource
Much like taking notes while a teacher lectures, there is more in listening, documenting, and receiving information versus simply looking and trying to talk your way through a lesson you still need to know more about. The same applies when seeking truth or pursuing conflict resolution. For example, ever sat there and gave a person the opportunity to speak all while knowing good and well that what they’re trying to convince you of is a lie or that the information they’ve been given, and are now giving you, isn’t completely factual? Some call that entertaining foolishness, I call that obtaining validation. Have a hunch about people’s motives, their perspectives, and overall role in your life or someone else's? You want to find out exactly where they stand? Give them the mic or step back and let them just do as they choose.
Their body language, tone, and words will verify it all. Don’t correct them whenever they say something incorrect. Don’t retaliate when attacked. Don’t call them out on their bias or bull. Don’t even waste your breath trying to explain a truth, make them understand how you feel, or stop them in their tracks. Make your basic point, if absolutely necessary, and be done. Simply let them carry on. Why? Ignorant, irresponsible, and insidious people all have a way of talking themselves into a hole while slowly removing their mask. And just as you calmly and tactfully got your confirmation, you can maturely and confidently beat a player at their game.
Hold Them or Fold Them: Fight or Flight
People handle and receive things differently. Whether calculated, spiritual, or methodical in nature, the silent route is often misunderstood to people. Those close to you will instinctively want to hype you up to seek retaliation or judge you because in their eyes they don't understand how and why you'd sit there and do nothing. However, what most people don't grasp is that refraining from setting it off or stooping to someone’s level is hardly nothing. If you look at history, natural selection, or even your past, you will see that the best battles are fought and won by understanding and utilizing silence in some capacity.
When you have restraint, you don’t need revenge. You don't need an apology, argument, or even acknowledgment. As time progresses, you will be gifted with an increased level of endurance, insight, and self control. Just keep your peace and let everyone and everything continue until the time is right. If there's a time at all. That’s how attorneys build their cases, psychologists define patterns, and hunters catch their prey. You sit back, shut up, and let that person, problem, or situation align itself to be destroyed, revealed, or exhausted. It’s always only a matter of time.
Life's a Gamble
If there is anything I've learned about silence and expression it's that not everything and everyone stand worthy of my words or reaction, silence speaks volumes, and energy allocation is key. No matter if what you're saying is the right thing, the difficult thing, or necessary thing, sometimes it's best to sit back, shut up, analyze and seek wise counsel to ensure you're handling it the best way. If something is said at the wrong time, at the wrong place, in the wrong season, or to a person who can't accurately perceive it then the message will not be received or used to its best ability.
Reflect before reacting and you'd be surprised at how things can pan out. A fool never knows discernment, but a wise person uses their restraint, lessons, and insight as their covering and compass. That's why a even a loss can still turn around and work in your favor. It's not the cards that are dealt that determine the win; but how you play them.
Psalms 46:10 Exodus 14:14