Don't Talk

THERE is more nervous energy wasted, more nervous strain generated,

more real physical harm done by superfluous talking than any one

knows, or than any one could possibly believe who had not studied

it. I am not considering the harm done by what people say. We all

know the disastrous effects that follow a careless or malicious use

of the tongue. That is another question. I simply write of the

physical power used up and wasted by mere superfluous words, by

using one hundred words where ten will do--or one thousand words

where none at all were needed.

I once had been listening to a friend chatter, chatter, chatter to

no end for an hour or more, when the idea occurred to me to tell her

of an experiment I had tried by which my voice came more easily.

When I could get an opportunity to speak, I asked her if she had

ever tried taking a long breath and speaking as she let the breath

out. I had to insist a little to keep her mind on the suggestion at

all, but finally succeeded. She took a long breath and then stopped.

There was perhaps for half a minute a blessed silence, and then what

was my surprise to hear her remark: "I--I--can't think of anything

to say." "Try it again," I told her. She took another long breath,

and again gave up because she could not think of anything to say.

She did not like that little game very much, and thought she would

not make another effort, and in about three minutes she began the

chatter, and went on talking until some necessary interruption

parted us.

This woman's talking was nothing more nor less than a nervous habit.

Her thought and her words were not practically connected at all. She

never said what she thought for she never thought. She never said

anything in answer to what was said to her, for she never listened.

Nervous talkers never do listen. That is one of their most striking


I knew of two well-known men--both great talkers--who were invited

to dine. Their host thought, as each man talked a great deal and--,

as he thought--talked very well, if they could meet their

interchange of ideas would be most delightful. Several days later he

met one of his guests in the street and asked how he liked the

friend whom he had met for the first time at his house.

"Very pleasant, very pleasant," the man said, "but he talks too


Not long after this the other guest accosted him unexpectedly in the

street "For Heaven's sake, don't ask me to dine with that Smith

again--why, I could not get a word in edgewise."

Now, if only for selfish reasons a man might realize that he needs

to absorb as well as give out, and so could make himself listen in

order to be sure that his neighbor did not get ahead of him. But a

conceited man, a self-centered man or a great talker will seldom or

never listen.

That being the case, what can you expect of a woman who is a nervous

talker? The more tired such a woman is the more she talks; the more

ill she is the more she talks. As the habit of nervous talking grows

upon a woman it weakens her mind. Indeed, nervous talking is a

steadily weakening process.

Some women talk to forget. If they only knew it was slow mental

suicide and led to worse than death they would be quick to avoid

such false protection. If we have anything we want to forget we can

only forget it by facing it until we have solved the problem that it

places before us, and then working on, according to our best light:

We can never really cover a thing up in our minds by talking

constantly about something else.

Many women think they are going to persuade you of their point of

view by talking. A woman comes to you with her head full of an idea

and finds you do not agree with her. She will talk, talk, talk until

you are blind and sick and heartily wish you were deaf, in order to

prove to you that she is right and you are wrong.

She talks until you do not care whether you are right or wrong. You

only care for the blessed relief of silence, and when she has left

you, she has done all she could in that space of time to injure her

point of view. She has simply buried anything good that she might

have had to say in a cloud of dusty talk.

It is funny to hear such a woman say after a long interview, "Well,

at any rate, I gave him a good talking to. I guess he will go home

and think about it."

Think about it, madam? He will go home with an impression of rattle

and chatter and push that will make him dread the sight of your

face; and still more dread the sound of your voice, lest he be

subjected to further interviews. Women sit at work together. One

woman talks, talks, talks until her companions are so worn with the

constant chatter that they have neither head nor nerve enough to do

their work well. If they know how to let the chatter go on and turn

their attention away from it, so that it makes no impression, they

are fortunate indeed, and the practice is most useful to them. But

that does not relieve the strain of the nervous talker herself; she

is wearing herself out from day to day, and ruining her mind as well

as hurting the nerves and dispositions of those about her who do not

know how to protect themselves from her nervous talk.

Nervous talking is a disease.

Now the question is how to cure it. It can be cured, but the first

necessity is for a woman to know she has the disease. For, unlike

other diseases, the cure does not need a physician, but must be made

by the patient herself.

First, she must know that she has the disease. Fifty nervous talkers

might read this article, and not one of them recognize that it is

aimed straight at her.

The only remedy for that is for every woman who reads to believe

that she is a nervous talker until she has watched herself for a

month or more--without prejudice--and has discovered for a certainty

that she is not.

Then she is safe.

But what if she discover to her surprise and chagrin that she is a

nervous talker? What is the remedy for that? The first thing to do

is to own up the truth to herself without equivocation. To make no

excuses or explanations but simply to acknowledge the fact.

Then let her aim straight at the remedy--silence--steady, severe,

relaxed silence. Work from day to day and promise herself that for

that day she will say nothing but what is absolutely necessary. She

should not repress the words that want to come, but when she takes

breath to speak she must not allow the sentence to come out of her

mouth, but must instead relax all over, as far as it is possible,

and take a good, long, quiet breath. The next time she wants to

speak, even if she forgets so far as to get half the sentence out of

her mouth, stop it, relax, and take a long breath.

The mental concentration necessary to cure one's self of nervous

talking will gather together a mind that was gradually becoming

dissipated with the nervous talking habit, and so the life and

strength of the mind can be saved.

And, after that habit has been cured, the habit of quiet thinking

will begin, and what is said will be worth while.

Do Not Hurry Dr Jerome Kidder's Electro-magnetic Machine facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail