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The Art of Shutting Up

Updated: Mar 30, 2020


I'm a problem-solver by nature. I talk too much. Virtually all of what I do involves verbal and written communication. Right now, I'm talking to you whoever you are. By the way, what up doe? 

Though it doesn't always come naturally to me when someone I love has a problem, sometimes helping involves NOT helping. I KNOW! CRAZY, right? As time goes on, I learn more and more that there's an art to shutting my mouth. Not because I have nothing good to say and not because I lack impactful solutions to share and not because I say it in an ill manner which can be an issue of mine but because there are times when helping isn't quite helpful in that moment. 

Those instances include but are not limited to the following scenarios. 


When someone suffers a great loss like a death in the family, a miscarriage or stillbirth, that person doesn't need to hear cliches. That person needs to space the grieve. It is okay for people to weep in their mourning. I know we want to encourage them and there will be time to do so, but what they need is for you to shut up and just be there so they know they are safe to cry. Pray for them in silence if they don't want to hear you, watch t.v. with them, listen to music, feed them, or listen to them. Shut up unless otherwise noted and allow them to know they can cry or lean on you if they need. 


When your friend is in a toxic relationship or in a toxic cycle. You've already warned him or her,  so saying "I told you so" is ineffective EVEN THOUGH YOU DID! I know how frustrating that can be. I really do get it, but your friend has a decision to make and stating the obvious doesn't always help. Keep praying for your friend, maybe even send encoruaging messages, be positive, tell the truth always, but love that person from a far if his or her mess weighs too heavily on you and you see no light in sight. It's okay to love from a far. You don't have to become resentful. Do you. Depending on the relationship you can keep telling that real but eventually being helpful will be damaging to you if you see your friend not accepting it. 


When someone has a recent fail in life. We know failing doesn't make one a failure and we never want to see our people just wallow in self-pity unless you're the Gilmore Girls in the allotted wallow period over a breakup. But with that being said, people still need their time to get their minds right. This can vary from person to person, so use the boundaries of the relationship to guide you. As a rule of thumb, do not come immediately with how-to solutions. Again, solutions are necessary but timing is everything and the timeframe does differ based on relationships. At least, they sure do for me. 

This is not 100% fool-proof but shutting up rarely gets me in trouble. Running my mouth has cost me a lot, but maybe that's just me. On the flipside giving full discolsure, a few folks have recently given me great information but because they didn't pay attention to my tale-tell signs of being bombarded with other people's two cents, what they said didn't matter to me. It left me frustrated and annoyed. A great chunk could've been beneficial but cyphering through useless information to digest helpful dialogue didn't happen in my frustration. I can only speak from personal experience. There are very few people who can approach me immediately after a fail or another occurrence requiring encouragement or even reproach. It's not that I know everything or don't want anyone to tell me anything. It's because my mind has to be clear before I can digest anything else. Unsolicited advice can sometimes be the best thing ever when the timing is right. There have been numerous times when I've given unsolicited advice or was so overly eager about encouraging somebody but it fell on gravel not good ground because it was not the time to sow that information. Be patient, but another word to the wise is to at least try to listen to sound counsel notice I said counsel even when you're not in the mood. 

"Do you see someone who speaks in haste? There is more hope for a fool than for them." Proverbs 29:20 NIV

Hi, my name is K.T. Braxton and I'm learning the art of shutting up. If no one has shown you, I love you but God loves you better. 

Be blessed.

-K.T.B.


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