Most of us would like to believe that we stop and think first before saying something we ought not to have said. However, many conversations go too quickly and occasionally even we are surprised by something we have said. “Where did that come from?” we may ask ourselves later. In fact, if you have done this only once or twice or if you can’t even remember when you have said something you later regretted saying, even in a conversation that was particularly heated, that’s unusual.
Most of us say something now and then that we may later find odd, or regrettable. It might be something that we were not even aware was bouncing around in the back of our mind, and might suddenly come out. But sometimes if we later think about it and reflect on it at some length, we can see what may have been bothering us subconsciously. The surprise is about why we were no longer able to keep those thoughts hidden away and the position we took in the conversation comes out. The surprise also may not be just about saying something, but saying something we had actually thought through, and made a pronouncement on an issue we were not even aware we had been thinking about, let alone come to a conclusion about.
While you may have a momentary embarrassment over what you have said, the person with whom you are talking may have missed this completely. Of course, he/she is not privy to the argument you have been having about the matter within your self-conscious mind. But, it can be more complicated. It might be that something is wrong with our thinking, and we may need to seek professional help. That may be, but it is unlikely unless this is something that is happening all the time. It begins to cloud your social interactions. Still, there are some things you might want to try prior to seeking professional help.
First, the approach I like best—for obvious reasons—is to write out what you are thinking about, first in a journal and later perhaps in a blog. If you journal every day, write out what you are thinking about. Reread today what you wrote about yesterday before you start today’s entry.
What you write may surprise you occasionally. Almost inevitably you will come across some ideas you didn’t know you were thinking about. So journaling give you the chance to see some of the things you’ve been thinking about deeply before they spontaneously emerge in a conversation.
Alternatively, it may be that conversations in which you said some things you later regarded as odd or revealing, were coming to the surface when you were not at your best—when you were tired from working too hard or after troublesome or fitful sleep, having been awake too much in the night such that when you were supposed to be at your best you were far from it.
Whether we just don’t talk through things with ourselves enough (possibly correctable by journaling) or we have not been getting enough sleep or enough of the right kind of sleep, we can in addition just try to cultivate a little more self-restraint. Many people may attempt to do this by sheer force of will, by just stopping themselves from saying something they might later regret. Some will self start a process of quick evaluation of something they think to say by calling preliminary attention to a quote they may have memorized. Two of these follow by way of example: “If you have nothing good to say don’t say anything at all.”…anonymous… or “Better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”…Abraham Lincoln.
Some or all of the remarks we make, later regarded by us as inappropriate, may be coming from certain self-deceptions we may be cultivating because of lies we have heard others tell. Often this can be from the excesses of politicians and radio or TV talk-show hosts. Picking up on and running with the lies or delusions of others is a growing problem in this society, and, in my view, harmful to a more general discussion of issues. Being vague or in a fog about what you believe is something only you can do something about. Why allow others to build up in you ways to deceive yourself, especially when deep down you want to be an honest person helping to build or rebuild thoughtful balance into the social issues challenging your community?