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These days we are influenced by a culture of talk and tweets. We’re told to express our feelings, hold nothing back. We’ve all seen in national news how people’s unrestrained talk and tweets get them into public hot water. Every day I see the relational fallout that comes from thoughtless, foolish, deceitful, and cruel words.
But there are times we ought to keep our negative thoughts and emotions to ourselves and refuse to give them a voice. The Bible warns us that our tongue can be a mighty weapon, for good and for evil. (James 3:6-10). Proverbs says, “Reckless words pierce like a sword” (Proverbs 12:18). We can damage a person’s spirit, family, or reputation by blurting out negative thoughts and feelings without any thought or prayer. Yes, it might temporarily help you feel better when you’re mad or hurt to blurt them out, but I liken blurting to vomit. It does feel better to get vomit out, but vomit belongs in the toilet and not on another person.
It’s not only good for the other person that you learn not to blurt your negative thoughts and feelings during moments of great intensity. It is also good for you.
Proverbs 21:23 says, “He who guards his mouth and his tongue keeps himself from calamity.”
Proverbs 13:3 says, “He who guards his lips guards his life, but he who speaks rashly will come to ruin.”
1 Peter 3:10 says, “Whoever would love life and see good days must keep his tongue from evil and his lips from deceitful speech.”
Imagine how much better you would feel if you weren’t always complaining or critical of something wrong in your life? How would your relationships be improved if the people in your life weren’t wary of your reckless or deceitful words? How different would you feel about yourself if you weren’t so captured by your own negative feelings and thoughts?
Here are three things you can do to stop blurting.
1. Decide: No matter how negatively you feel, make a conscious decision that you will not vomit your toxic emotions out on others. (Don’t get me wrong – you may have to speak some hard words at times, but hard words need not be harsh words). The psalmist determined, “I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin; I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence” (Psalm 39:1).
2. Acknowledge the struggle: In Psalm 39 despite his vow to keep silent, the psalmist found keeping quiet tough. Silence didn’t bring the psalmist satisfaction but more anguish (see verses 2 and 3). During a time of anguish and temptation, write a no-send letter venting out your feelings or praying them out to God until you can get a better perspective and calm down.
3. Remember the big picture: It’s crucial that you understand that YOU are much more than your temporal thoughts and feelings. We all have negative thoughts and feelings but it’s important to not allow them to have us. Instead of getting stuck in your mood or negative thoughts, remind yourself that you are more than your feelings and you will have to give an account to God for how you handled yourself during times of adversity. Remember your goal (I don’t want to vomit on people), your deeper desires (I want to be a godly person, or I don’t want to have regrets later) or your core values (I want to treat people as I would like to be treated). This practice helps us develop the muscle of restraint and self-control so that we don’t become a slave to our emotions.
Dietrich Bonheoffer said, “Often we combat our evil thoughts most effectively if we absolutely refuse to allow them to be expressed in words…It must be a decisive rule of every Christian fellowship that each individual is prohibited from saying much that occurs to him.”
Decide today that you will no longer let your negative feelings get the best of you and hurt other people.