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Lesson #7: How to STFU

Posted Jun 15 2010 10:23am

I’m a talker. We know this. Officially, I’m a writer, but really, I’m a writer only because I’m a talker.

But sometimes I wear myself out.

And because lately I haven’t been able to shut off my brain, mouth, and computer, my go-to phrase has become…

I’m not sure how it really started. I just started saying it because it came in handy. I’d listen to a friend freak out about the logistics of a situation (“But what time will I pick you up then? But what if we can’t get in?”) or start over-analyzing a guy (“But why doesn’t he call me back? I mean I know he’s not cheating on me but why doesn’t he call me back, Rachel?”) and it was just an automatic reaction. I’d close my eyes and purse my lips, shake my head and put my finger to my mouth and and just gently say it.

Now, it’s definitely not a rude thing; it’s not shushing anyone. But you’re shushing the negative thoughts. You’re just dismissing the thoughts like a librarian dismisses a noisy child. And there’s something about it that’s actually really soothing. By having such a calm reaction, it sort of helps people realize when they are being ridiculous .

So then, unsurprisingly, I found myself just saying it to myself.

If, for example, at 8 AM, I am feeling anxious about how I am going to get everything done that day and still have time to wash my hair, and my mind is talking a mile a minute and I’m banging away on the keyboard with enough force to wake the dog…without even thinking about it, I just automatically say it. Out loud.

If I am trying to predict the future of a job, relationship, or anything else that cannot possibly be determined…

Try it sometime! People always say to take a deep breath, but sometimes stopping to let that breath out works just as well. It quiets all manners of self-doubt, ridiculousness, anxiety, and panic, whether in yourself or in someone else. I swear it feels really, really good…more soothing than a yoga class or any buttered carb!

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