Note: {I originally published this podcast episode on November 29, 2020 as Episode 16, I recently published it again (as Episode 36) with the hope that it might be helpful during this holiday season}. Here is the transcript. . . .


Greetings All, Welcome to the podcast “Close to the Bone.” I’m Carl Vreeland.


This is episode #16, it’s entitled, Keep Your Mouth Shut.


Whenever the holidays come around, I always suggest to my students, if they plan to see their family, to keep their mouths shut. I usually follow-up by saying, you’ll thank me on the morning after. Unless you like fighting, drama, conflict, bad feelings, anger, and emotional hangovers, then of course you can disregard what I’m saying. But if you prefer peace, calm, warm feelings, relaxation, and a good sleep, it would be wise to keep your mouth shut.


I mean, why do we engage in heated discussion, argument, and combative debate? Why do we need to have our say? Why do we need to be right? Why do we have to stand our ground so firmly? It’s only family, not world politics. Is it worth it? Doesn’t “choose your battles wisely” apply here? Now, I do realize “family” is complicated. It’s easy to fall back into our old ways when we’re with family, there are so many triggers, so much history, hurt feelings, and many unresolved issues.


But we’re older now, wiser, we’ve come further along emotionally and spiritually, we’ve built an arsenal of coping tools, techniques, strategies, and a great self-awareness and awareness of others. We’ve become great observers of our minds and the behaviors and motives of others. We’ve learned the art of the pause, and we rarely get ruffled now. Yet somehow, and it never seems to fail, no matter how far we believe we’ve come, once we’re with our family, and happy to see them, and grateful for the meal we’re about to share, bam, we get snagged, and so easily. We get drawn into an intense conversation, we turn flustered, bothered, angry, loud, whereas it seems like all our inside work was for naught. Yes, we thought we grew spiritually, psychologically, and emotionally, but our ugly self, the monster within us, seemingly still alive and well, emerges, strong as ever. And we travel home defeated. Once at home, once the smoke clears and the dust settles, lying in bed, we feel sick inside, and we reflect and wallow in great disappointment in ourselves. Then that inner-voice speaks out, “You should’ve kept your mouth shut.”


Alright, well, let’s step back. Firstly, we are works in progress and we will always be. Once we think “I got this” we are headed for trouble. We must continue to practice pausing, self-control, and self-restraint. We must remember that these family gatherings are opportunities, they are tests, and they are necessary. They show us that we have more work to do. But it’s OK, it’s good. These challenging situations are humbling, and humbleness is good. We are not in control, we are powerless in many ways, we are not perfect and never will be. And we need to be reminded of that, it is vital for spiritual growth. Additionally, we need to let go of setbacks and move forward. How quickly we can let go of our failings is another sign of our progress. We must continue, continue, continue, and not beat ourselves up for failing to live up to our standards. More than that, we must not blame our family, they have their struggles too. We must not hold onto resentments if we are to grow, live in peace, and be compassionate and understanding human beings. And we must forgive, no matter who is at fault, if we are to experience well-being. There’s no way around it, we must forgive, and that means forgive ourselves as well.


So let’s go back to keeping our mouths shut. See, to go further, by restraint of tongue, not only do we avoid conflict and intense emotions, but we gain the ability to listen and interpret what’s being said. We become understanding as to why and what is being said is being said. We see our family members as human beings, who, like us, are struggling, suffering, and want to be happy and at peace. Truth is, in anger, arguing, fighting, yelling, interrupting, trying to be heard, not listening—well, what’s good about that? Well, in my opinion, nothing. No doubt, family can bring out the worst in us, but they can also bring out the best in us. Choose the latter, that would be my advice. When we keep our mouths shut, we are more likely to be our best—kind, strong, helpful, useful, and a positive example to others, especially to children, children who are watching our every move. Indeed, children learn by watching us. And if we really want to change the world for the better, we must be a positive example and force for them. But that’s another podcast episode.


As always, thank you so much for listening. If you enjoy this podcast, a great way to support it is to leave a Review, or Rate it, Subscribe to it, and Share it with others. It really does help greatly. Thanks again.








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