Put a Sock In It

In Mental Health on December 6, 2009 at 10:28 pm

Dear Yenta,

I have this problem where I talk incessantly. I cannot seem to
stop. Every time, before I go out with friends, I tell myself on the
way out the door, to just shut up and listen. But invariably I end
up on another monologue.

To be completely honest, I am probably not that bad. I do have a few
friends who say I am a good listener. But the problem is when I go
out with a group of people, or with friends of friends I just can
not shut up. Even when I see people’s eyes start to glaze over.

How do I stop? Please help.


Guilty Gabber

Dear GG,

One common symptom of excessive speech is lack of oxygen. You need to see if you are breathing enough as your nervous talk escalates. Then, practice breathing, hearing your breath, timing it, counting it, whatever it takes to stay with yourself. A runaway mouth in a crowd also implies an exit of the self. You are putting so much out there that you momentarily abandon number one. My guess is that the more pressure you put on yourself to shut it, the worse it gets. This is why breathing cautiously helps in an anxious situation like this one, because it is a way of staying with yourself and therefore staying calm.

Also, these words you spew are a form of nervous energy that needs to be expelled. Work at this. Run or bike or go to yoga the day of a group gathering. Masturbation is an excellent social calming tool. If you are up for it, get off before going out to keep those swirling nerves under control. Masturbation, and of course, meditation. Sit in silence for even just five minutes watching your breath before you go out. Note your thoughts and remind yourself that they are just in your mind. This trick, if practiced regularly, will cut away half the neurosis.

Lastly, be nice to yourself. Everyone gets nervous. Don’t be so rough with your gabbing mouth. It will more likely stop evading you if you don’t put so much awful pressure on it to cease. And laugh at yourself. This is, ultimately, a little funny, a mouth with a mind of its own. I doubt you are nearly as awful as you think. Awareness, so they say, is the first step to recovery. You will be silent in no time.

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