Monday Musings Thirty-six: Shut up. Just … shut up

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Shut up. Just … shut up.


Often, when going through a tough time, all we need is to talk it out. To share with someone. What we don’t need—much of the time—is advice, and certainly not judgement.

The problem is that when a loved one is going through hell, we want to help get them through it. And it proves all too easy to spout our home-grown wisdom and interject our thoughts on the matter at hand.

I know that at the times I’ve felt at my lowest ebb, what I’ve needed above all else is a simple hug. At those moments, words can never fill the hole. Wait … did I just say hole? When it seems things can’t get any worse, that hole feels more like the deepest, darkest pit at the bottom of an impenetrable chasm.

It’s not just our tongues with which we talk too much. We need to learn how to shut our brains up as well. In fact, if we take care of the grey matter, the muscle in our mouth takes care of itself. So, please, shut up … just shut up.

Once we manage to grow quiet enough, we can offer what the person in distress needs the most … an ear with which to truly listen. A hand for them to hold, or am arm to offer that much-needed hug. We can offer our understanding, which is a far greater gift than our opinions.Zen Stones for Monday Musings

Of course, words can and do have a place. The point is to use them sparingly. Make sure they mean something. Only speak when we have something valuable to add. And, we must make sure that we know what we’re talking about.

Always, though, it is best to let people come to their own conclusions and ways forward. Let them get there themselves. Sometimes, they might need you to act like the barriers of a motorway so that they don’t veer off and crash into a tree. Be like the headlamps of the car and light the way.

The last thing anyone needs is for the damned horn to blare all the time. Who can concentrate with all that noise going on? Never mind having to deal with a running commentary on the ins and outs of the freakin’ route.

Above all other advice that you can offer, the most helpful is to help the troubled person to find some measure of peace. To teach them, if they’re open, how to perform a basic meditation. The simplest that I know of is the one I mentioned in last week’s Monday Musings where you count the breaths. When your brain is just too full up of noise to find the peace and quiet that you need, this is a sure way to refocus and calm the mind.

In the wise words of Zen:


‘When someone can’t look on the bright side, sit with them in the dark.’

If you’ve missed my previous Monday Musings, you can find the links here: :)