“Learning to Breathe Under Silence.”
I also use this teaching when counseling couples who continually argue as well with clients who continually cut me off and refuse to listen.
One of the greatest challenges we face within ourselves as inherently fallible, imperfect human beings is our difficulty deciphering at which appropriate time should we or should we not speak out; to relay our perspectives, communicate our thoughts, layout our feelings and ideas as opposed to when we should just remain silent.
Sometimes we speak out and convey what is on our minds too quickly, too abruptly, forcefully, haphazardly, delivering words to others that are not yet ready to be put forth.
In our desperation to be understood, respected, appreciated, well-esteemed, we may say too much at once, divulge too many details and particulars about ourselves, where our listener is then so overwhelmed by the massive amount of information they’re given and then forced to immediately process, that we compromise our own objective, leaving our efforts, intent, and purpose nothing short of counterproductive and unsuccessful. Our listener may then back away, turn away and even walk away entirely.
Have you ever picked up a book, glanced through it only to put it back on the shelf because it felt at the time too difficult or complex of a read, too exhaustive and comprehensive, perhaps too technical or confusing?
Sometimes when we relay too much at a given time, we become that book. I have been out shopping where I’ve made a friendly remark to another shopper and before I finished one innocuous statement, the listener had me backed against a row of canned goods, relaying their entire life story.
When we speak too much in the wrong place at the wrong time, we are no longer knocking on the door to someone’s heart, but we are kicking it in and giving greater opportunity to the rise of various negative emotions that can surface in both ourselves and the listener.
We all seem to have this problem on some level and there are countless reasons why we at times divulge too much information about ourselves, especially to those who, for the most part, barely know us or do not know us at all. For example, one reason could be a need to make others know that we are someone of great importance and that we are of tremendous value.
We may strive to make others immediately aware of who it is we are or how we at least perceive ourselves, in order that others dignify our achievements with words of positive affirmation, and acknowledgment as a demonstration of their earnest interest in who we are.
This behavior tends to come from those who are doubting themselves or feel inadequate, unimportant, undervalued and in dire need of affirmation, validation, and praise in order to raise the level of their own self-worth.
Occasionally we may try to make ourselves appear formidable, powerful and stronger than we actually are, appearing larger than life and even fearless, using words and phrases to establish dominance, superiority, and control as a means of masking the way we might actually feel about ourselves.
We might overindulge our feelings of pride and self-satisfaction, speaking excessively of our own achievements, possessions, or abilities in order to divert the attention of others away from focusing on our faults, weaknesses, shortcomings, and insecurities.
However, more often than not when we reveal too much about ourselves all at once, our listener may then only recognize how painfully insecure we really are.
Sometimes we speak so much at once and so aggressively in order to achieve attention and establish dominance, power, and control, that our efforts to garner respect, approval, and understanding is negated by our unsavory and unappealing, Godlike reverence to ourselves, which invariably turns our listeners completely off where they then just tune us right out.
Our quest to feverishly prove our superiority leaves us nothing more than an even greater sense of isolation, abandonment, and emptiness.
The greatest way to convey who we are is by our actions over and above the multitude of our words.
When we continually interrupt someone, even cutting them out of the conversation entirely in order to retain center stage, it’s condescending, degrading, belittling, insulting and it shows a lack of control over our thoughts, feelings, tongue, actions, and behaviors. It tells the listener that we have no regard for their feelings, their thoughts, their knowledge, their experience, what they’ve learned or encountered, what they can bring to the table and what they can contribute.
It tells the listener we have no respect for them, we do not value them as a person nor dignify their presence. It greatly diminishes the other person’s willingness to hear anything further we might have to say, no matter how powerful and true our words might be and it raises enough of a red flag that the listener has now tuned us out entirely, shut down by our own wrongdoing.
When the speaker does not receive the reaction or response he or she has hoped for, the speaker may have unleashed a flood of negative vibes that could infiltrate his or her own thoughts and mind such as resentment, feelings of rejection, painful disappointment, animosity, tension, hostility, shame, and profound hurt.
Invariably, rather than focusing on our own poor choices and rethinking the way in which we proceed or behave, we are quick to lash out and blame our listener, often deluding ourselves into believing the listener is insensitive, unfeeling, uncaring, cold, heartless and mean-spirited.
We may feel their indifference to our words has embarrassed us, humiliated us and devalued us, all at which point for some speakers might lead to the development of depression and far deeper feelings of inadequacy when the listener who now feels violated and bullied by our use of force in the one-sided conversation, fails to dignify our words with praise, words of affirmation, support, and validation.
In some cases when the speaker feels so deprived of attention, their distorted perception may further mutate into feelings of rage, a desire for retribution, retaliation, and a struggle to now conquer by brute physical force even to the degree of inflicting harm, may ensue.
Professor Rick Renner once said,
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels and have not charity [love], I have become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. — 1 Corinthians 13:1
It seems that the apostle Paul encountered a group of people who were extremely “super-spiritual” in the city of Corinth. However, Paul was unimpressed with these people and their level of spirituality because they had an obvious lack of love. Their deficit of love bothered him so deeply that he alluded to it when he wrote First Corinthians 13:1: Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I have become as sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal.
The words “sounding brass” are very important in this verse. Let’s begin our study today with the word “brass.” It comes from the Greek word chalkos, an old word that referred to metal.
However, it wasn’t just any metal; it was bronze or copper to which a small amount of tin had been added. This tin caused the metal to have a hollow, empty sound when it was beaten. That is why Paul also used the word “sounding” — the Greek word echo, which described a noise that reverberates or echoes.
When these two words were used together, they portrayed the endless beating of metal that produces a hollow, annoying, irritating echo that seems to eternally reverberate.”
So when Paul wrote about a “sounding brass,” he borrowed an illustration from the pagan world of Corinth to make his point about super-spiritual people who demonstrate no love.
The illustration he chose to use was the endless, nonstop, annoying, aggravating, irritating, frenzied beating and clanging of brass that was performed in pagan worship and that echoed ceaselessly throughout the city of Corinth.
The citizens of Corinth could never escape the endless banging of this metal, so this was an illustration everyone in the Corinthian church could readily comprehend.”