Some of the best advice in Simplicity Parenting is not strictly parenting advice. It is the idea that we should unclutter our speech. In the book, this is a way to calm ourselves so that our speech doesn’t become a constant running commentary that makes children more anxious.
The three-word test this new economical way of speaking should pass is: true, kind, necessary. Are the words I’m saying true? Are they kind? Are they necessary?
Even taken out of the realm of parenting, this is a great way to tell if your speech is cluttered. Take a day to notice how much you say that doesn’t pass this simple test. I don’t generally struggle much with saying untrue or unkind things, but I still catch myself needing to bite my tongue when I’m about to say something mean. If you struggle with this, stop and ask yourself if you will walk away from that conversation a better person for what you’ve said.
I mostly struggle with the “necessary” part. I’m a very verbal person, and I tend to keep talking, even after my brain has shut off. I’ve found that I fear silence, and will keep talking just to fill it up. I’m slowly learning to avoid this—to let myself be quiet. Silence is just as important as speech, and it makes what you say have that much more weight. This isn’t to say that you must remain silent unless you have something of great importance to say, but it does affirm the adage: think before you speak.
This is also a great filtering system for your inner monologue as well. Even if you are careful with your words, how many of your thoughts would pass this test? I know many of mine wouldn’t. So even as I’m thinking, I’ll ask myself if what I’m thinking is really true, or is it just wild speculation? Is what I’m thinking kind,
even especially if it is about myself? Is this train of thought really necessary?
More than anything else, this test allows room for quiet in a way little else does. When you are thinking true, kind, and necessary thoughts, it means you are not thinking untrue, unkind, and unnecessary thoughts. Which, if you are like me, leaves a lot of room for quiet. When you are speaking, and thinking before you do so, you can leave a conversation feeling good about the things you’ve said, instead of regretting a passing comment.
How do you unclutter your speech?