This article will help you to explore
WHY you occasionally say the wrong thing
WHAT to do when you slip
HOW to tame your tongue
“I’m usually good at controlling my tongue, but sometimes I slip and afterward wish I could just disappear!”—Chase
“At times I say things that everyone is probably thinking but that shouldn’t be said out loud . . . Oops!”—Allie
WHY IT HAPPENS
Key scripture: “If a person never makes a mistake in what he says, he is perfect.” (James 3:2, Good News Translation) The point? No one has complete control of the tongue. Most can relate to Annette,a who confides: “The speed bump between my brain and my mouth often turns into a launching pad.”
True story: “A friend expressed interest in some clothes I was getting rid of. Without thinking, I said, ‘I don’t think they’ll fit you.’ She replied, ‘What? Do you think I’m fat?’”—Corrine.
To understand why you might occasionally lose control of your speech, try the following.
● Identify your weakness.
․․․․․ I tend to speak out of anger
․․․․․ I tend to speak without thinking
․․․․․ I tend to speak without listening
․․․․․ Other ․․․․․
Example: “I have a problem with joking around too much, and sometimes people take what I say the wrong way.”—Alexis.
● Identify with whom you are most likely to slip.
․․․․․ A parent
․․․․․ A sibling
․․․․․ A friend
․․․․․ Other ․․․․․
Example: “It’s sad, but the people I love the most are usually the easiest to hurt,” says 20-year-old Christine. “I guess it’s just because I feel so relaxed with them that I drop my guard.”
WHAT TO DO WHEN YOU SLIP
Key scripture: “Pursue the things making for peace.” (Romans 14:19) One way to follow that advice is to apologize.
True story: “My mom died when I was ten months old and my dad was never in the picture, so I was raised by my aunt and uncle. One day when I was about 10 or 11, I was feeling really lonely and angry that my mom had died, and I felt like blaming someone. So when my aunt asked me to help her out with something, I began ranting; and by the end of it, the words ‘I hate you’ and ‘You aren’t my real mom’ came out. My aunt had this shocked look on her face. Then she walked into her bedroom and shut the door, and I could hear her crying. I felt awful. She had taken care of me and had done everything for me, and I had treated her like dirt. My uncle talked to me about what had happened, and he showed me scriptures about controlling the tongue. Afterward, I sincerely apologized to my aunt. I had to realize that I was in the wrong.”—Karen.
Below, write one reason why it might be difficult for you to apologize.
Why might apologizing make you feel better?
Of course, it’s good to prevent a situation in the first place so that you won’t need to apologize. How can you do that?
HOW TO TAME YOUR TONGUE
Key scripture: “Be swift about hearing, slow about speaking, slow about wrath.” (James 1:19) Here are some tips that will help you put that advice into practice.
Read the following scriptures, and match each one to a tip.
1 “Try not to take yourself too seriously; that way you won’t easily be offended in the first place.”—Danette.
2 “I go for a walk. It gives me a chance to be alone for a bit and gives me time to cool down.”—Brielle.
3 “When I was younger, I used to think that every battle had to be fought, and I made an issue over everything. But I’ve learned that it’s better to let things roll off your back.”—Celia.
4 “If someone is yelling and you don’t say anything back, the person will eventually get tired of your lack of response. Just be patient. Don’t add fuel to the fire.”—Kerrin.
5 “There are times when I’m annoyed at someone. I’ll have all these thoughts about what I’d like to say to that person. But by waiting, I realize how pointless my words would have been. What I’ve learned is, don’t react immediately.”—Charles.
More articles from the “Young People Ask” series can be found at the Web site www.watchtower.org/ype
a Some names in this article have been changed.
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Allie—Before I say something, I ask myself questions like these: ‘Is this going to improve the situation? How is what I say going to affect the person I’m talking to?’ If you have doubts regarding what you’re about to say, you probably shouldn’t say it.
Chase—When I want to say something, I try to think about the impact it will have on those around me. I think that as I get older, I’m getting better at controlling my tongue. You definitely learn from experience.
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WHY NOT ASK YOUR PARENTS?
Since no one is perfect—as James wrote, “we all stumble many times”—talk to your parents about what struggles they have had with taming the tongue.—James 3:2.
[Picture on page 22]
“Once you squeeze toothpaste out, you can’t put it back in the tube. The same is true with our words. Once we say something hurtful, we can’t take it back.”—James.