We all have come across occasions when we said something stupid or hurtful to the other person and later regretted it and had to deal with the consequences. In our attempts to look smart and cool, and impress others, we say certain things but in the end talking more backfires on us and we appear inauthentic.
Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, once said, “Better to trip with the feet than with the tongue.” Robert Greene has also written, “Powerful people impress and intimidate by saying less. The more you say, the more likely you are to say something foolish.”
In this day and age, social media encourages us to “comment” and have an opinion about everything, even if it’s not relevant to us or our life. We live in a world that makes it so easy to talk and express ourselves through so many outlets — a blog article, a vlog on YouTube, a Facebook post, a tweet, a snap or a nicely filtered photo with a cool caption on Instagram. The compulsion of telling others what we’re thinking and feeling has never been so rampant and it’s mainly due to these sites and apps that are exploiting the masses by giving them the “creative freedom” to express themselves. Moreover, the validation that we get from our friends and our peers via likes, hearts, comments, shares and retweets further adds fuel to the fire.
We are living in a loud culture right now, and in order to stand out and be seen and heard, we start talking at the top of our lungs and become loud as well. But there’s very little point to it. It just leads to trouble, hurt and misery. That’s why, as paradoxical as it may sound, the truly loud thing to say is to say nothing.
The more we talk, the more likely we get to fall into a trap, lose opportunities, give up our personal power, avoid helpful feedback, feel guilty and cause ourselves unnecessary suffering. As Seneca has rightly said, “Silence is a lesson learned from the many sufferings of life.”
Silence is the way of those who are strong, certain and grounded. Those who are inexperienced, uncertain or fearful end up talking more to feel better and reassure themselves. In their book The Daily Stoic, Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman highlight this point, “The ability to listen, to deliberately keep out of a conversation and subsist without its validity is rare. Silence is a way to build strength and self-sufficiency.”
From today onwards, be extra careful with the words that you speak and see how much you can hold your tongue. When you become bold in your silence, you end up becoming bold in your life as well.