Terminal Foot in Mouth

I was reading on A Rich Full Life in Spite of It and got to thinking about communication challenges that I have struggled with. The most challenging for me has been the guard between my brain and my mouth.

Asleep On the Job
Growing up I was always told to think before I spoke. This, we all know, is easier said than done. The guard at the gate must be carefully trained in the actual meaning of the following words: appropriate/inappropriate, informative/foolish, funny/embarrassing. This can take quite a long time for your guard to master. The idea is that when the stupidity is threatening to fall out of your mouth your guard will shut the gate and keep it there. Well, apparently my guard has a very warped sense of humor. Occasionally he will let the stupidity fall out while trapping the good communication behind the gate.

You may think that this is not a real problem, but I can tell you from personal experience that it can be very serious. Verbal malfunctions have gotten me into more trouble than any action I could have taken.

Mixed-up Words
I got up the other morning very hungry. I walked into the kitchen and promptly announced, “I’m ravished!” My mother looked at me with her eyebrows raised and said, “Oh really?” The guard in my head instantly began laughing. I had meant to say either “famished” or “ravenous” but they got jumbled between my brain and my mouth. I was so glad no one else was in the kitchen.

When I was about 12 I came downstairs excited that we had a day off from school. I walked into the family room and promptly wished everyone a happy veterinarian’s day. My brothers immediately began laughing at me because it was “Veteran’s Day”. Blushing I went back up to my room. They teased me for days.

You Heard that?!
This is another serious problem when the guard between our brain and our mouth fails. You are in a serious or stressful situation and an obnoxious thought pops into your head. Suddenly there is silence in the room and everyone is looking at you. Somehow the thought sneaked out of your mouth without you knowing.

I’m sitting in a meeting at work. Upper management has come into town to explain some changes taking place in the company. This is not a new thing. It has happened many times over the years and the only thing that has changed is we are doing more work and have higher stress levels. I am sitting there listening to the rhetoric and thinking, “What a load of crap, I don’t believe a word of it.” My friend leans forward and says, “What was that?” If you are wondering, yes, I had said it out loud. I ended up repeating it to upper management. The discussion that started was necessary but fruitless. I no longer work there, but that was my choice. I couldn’t handle the stupidity any longer.

I have accidentally vocalized my opinions of people and how different situations have made me feel. Only if you use your head for something besides a hat rack. Knew that was going to happen. Because your cousin is an idiot. Yeah, you’re all that and more-on. Are a few phrases that the guard has let out. There are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of these types of vocabulary mix-ups in my life. Thankfully, I have a very bad memory and have forgotten (or blocked) most of them.

I’ve Got it Bad
Someone once told me that I had terminal foot it mouth. One of these days I was going to say something and someone would kill me or I would die of embarrassment. I used to think that maybe if I dipped my feet in chocolate it wouldn’t be so bad. I have spent a lot of time working with my guard. He is much more attentive to his duties now, but he still has a sense of humor.

Just one more thing to worry about. I have, however, learned to not let it stress me out too much. I have learned the art of the apology and the embarrassment hasn’t killed me yet.