Since my last therapy appointment, I've been working on keeping my mouth shut more often.
Sometimes I speak out on big things when I shouldn't--like telling my sister how she needs to be in marriage counseling and her 19 year old stepson needs to be in therapy (he won't keep a job and has major emotional issues from a drug-addict mother). Or giving my mother marriage advice.
I also get too attached to the outcome of total strangers' lives, thinking that I know what would be best for them and if only they would do "x" then they would get better.
I often dig myself into a hole of emotional upset when it's entirely unnecessary. The big things can really get to me. That's a huge reason why I stopped participating in Facebook as often. I got too involved in the good and the bad of people's lives, most of whom are only acquaintances.
I also have been working to keep my mouth shut with little things. Because I "see" things faster or more clearly than other people, I often don't wait until they recognize it for themselves and instead speak up and tell them what needs to be done.
For example, this weekend when we were at our niece Kate's house for dinner, Mark was standing in front of a cabinet that nephew-in-law Michael needed to get into while cooking. I saw that Michael was trying to get a bowl, but Mark was oblivious. Usually I would have said, "Mark, can you move so Michael can get into that cabinet?" But I kept my mouth shut. Michael is a big boy; he can ask Mark to move. I didn't need to get involved.
It's stuff like that. And it happens to me all the time. It is an effort to keep quiet.
It happens with my kids a lot, too. I jump to add in a detail in a conversation, or I'll tell them what to do next with their current task, when I haven't given them the time they need to process what I've asked them to do the first time. Those things frustrate the kids, and make me look like a harpy.
When Julie and I talked about this in therapy, she pointed out there is a difference between attachment and commitment.
I can be committed to being the best person I can be, and that is it. I can influence other people by being a positive example. Commitment allows you to be who you are without imposing your opinions or judgments on other people.
Attachment is what we've talked about as being "invested" in the outcome of people's choices and their lives. Attachment means we think we have some control over their choices and the outcome of their situation. Attachment leads to emotional upset in ourselves because we obviously have no control over other people, and it leads us to disappointment and (for me) even anger.
She said people don't want advice; they don't want to feel judged, either. What people want more than anything is to BE HEARD.
People in your life can't be heard if you are the one doing all the talking.
This is especially important with kids. My kids want to be heard more than they want solutions. As my daughter is getting older, I am learning this more and more. The night after my therapy appointment, she was telling me about her day which had been a little rough, and I sat and listened for a good 20 minutes. She hugged me afterwards and said how lucky she was to have a mom like me who listens and understands.
I was amazed at the immediate pay off of keeping my mouth shut.
It's not been easy, and I've not been perfect at it. I have a lot of work to do, and have to keep reminding myself that People Want to Be Heard.
I have always wanted to Be Heard because I feel like I have all the answers. I know, not a great trait to have--it's very prideful. Pride is another issue I've been working on this year. So this keeping quiet business is going against 40 years of who I am.
I like it, though. I like being a listener. If you think about the people who are most liked, most admired by others, are they the ones who spout off in never ending streams of know it all monologues? No. The people who listen are those who are thought of fondly and kindly.
People who listen are people who don't feel like they have anything to prove.
I can learn to listen, and reduce my prideful need to be heard.