Someone asked, “What advice can you give a 20-year-old boy who’s so anxious? He always says what’s on his mind and the truth, but it is also what they use against him always. It is hard for him not to speak out his mind.”

There are many times when we should speak what is in our mind and there are other times when we should be silent. Wisdom is learning when to speak and when to be silent. Honesty is important but diplomacy is also important. In general, the key thing is that our speech and life should be as harmless as possible while still being true to ourselves and what we think is right. Right speech is also often a mater not just of knowing when to speak and when not, but also how to speak, the manner and the quality of it, the spirit of it. Both speech and silence provide beautiful opportunities. Many difficult things can be said if they are voiced in the right spirit from a motive of love.

About being anxious: “When men speak ill of thee, live so nobody may believe them.” Plato

Another insight into the anxiety issue:

“We think it is because we are little and fearful and timid and we are afraid of being found out that we are anxious in the presence of other people, but really it is because we are afraid of not being appreciated for how marvelous we are. Anxiety is a great
egotism.” Jo Coudert

Wisdom in speech is something that needs to be rotated and looked at from many directions and for that some quotes are useful and worth pondering. Notice that there are paradoxes in the wisdom quoted and it is important to understand them and to synthesize all of what is given.

“Stand upright, speak thy thoughts, declare
The truth thou hast, that all may share;
Be bold, proclaim it everywhere:
They only live who dare.” Lewis Morris

“A young man read a book about the importance of honesty and decided to practice this virtue as rigorously and as strictly as possible. When his employer invited him to a party, the young man wrote a note declining the invitation:

‘Your conversation is boring, and you wallow in trivia. Besides, all of you are insufferable opportunists, and specimens of congealed egotism.’ As a result of his honesty, the young man was discharged from his position.

The next day his sister asked him his opinion of an expensive dress she had just bought. ‘You have no sense of harmony,’ he told her, ‘and prefer what is fashionable to what is beautiful.

‘The dress is really a monstrosity, but no one will tell you so because it is the present vogue.’ For the next week his sister refused to speak to him, but he could not understand why she seemed to be offended.”

Francis Merchant

“The only way to speak the truth is to speak lovingly.” Thoreau

“Talking is like playing on the harp; there is as much in laying the hands on the strings to stop their vibrations as in twanging them to bring out their music.”
– Oliver Wendell Holmes

“Not only to say the right thing in the right place, but far more difficult, to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
– George Sala

“In the commerce of speech use only coin of gold and silver.”
Joseph Joubert




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