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Monday, July 21, 2014

When to Filter, When to Censor

I recently wrote about being grounded, and what keeps me grounded.  I sincerely believe that living in the moment, being present, is an honest way to live (that is if you are being true to yourself).

So, if you do try very hard to live in the moment, if you censor yourself are you still being true to yourself?  Is it appropriate to censor yourself, and if so, under what circumstances?

Something I forgot to list as keeping me grounded is my sense of humor. Notice that I said "my" not "a".  I have an odd sense of humor, sometimes even a black sense of humor, but without it I am not me.  And a sense of humor does keep me grounded:  it reminds me to laugh at the world, and finding true humor at any time is a real and "in the moment" activity.  And really, there is just so much material out there! Think politics, think "rich and famous",  think WalMart, think circuses and monkeys.  Oh, it just goes on and on!  Having a sense of humor also forces me to laugh at myself, and there can be nothing more grounding that laughing at yourself!

Filter or Censor?

I must admit there have been many times in my life when my filter was off-kilter.  Sometimes thoughts just come into my mind and flow right out my mouth without taking any time to rumble around my censor or flow through my filter.  Lucky for me, the thoughts are very often considered by others to be funny and I do love to make people laugh.

To differentiate, my filter is there to prevent me from making humorous, angry or frustrated comments to people at the inopportune time, i.e. being as soon as they pop into my head.  My filter is there to remind me to forego humor if the comment would be offensive or hurtful to another.  My filter is there to remind me that sometimes I say things that make perfect sense to me because I hear all the other comments in my head that lead to the comment I make out loud.  My filter is supposed keep those thoughts in my head.

A "filter" example

For example, when we lived in California we were very good friends with another couple V. and J. that we met at a Western Dance Class.  We usually got together once a week for dinner, we spent time together at each other's homes, had picnics and parties.  We didn't always agree on politics, so we never discussed them at length.  We went kayaking together, we went dancing, we had wonderful times.  J. easily became my best friend in California, and our husbands got on famously. V. died suddenly the week we moved to Pennsylvania and his loss left a huge hole in our lives and hearts.  There wasn't anything we couldn't say to each other, and that is the background story to my filter example.

One evening they were over to our home for dinner, and we were dining al fresco on our patio.  As V. leaned over to pluck some little bits of lint off J's sweater, I looked at my best friend's husband and said "Oh, look, you're her monkey!"   

You might guess that there was a beat or two of silence before I had the presence of mind to back peddle and explain why that very strange comment came out of my mouth at that time. (I wasn't even drinking anything stronger than iced tea!) They had no way of knowing I had recently seen some sort of animal program on television (All About Monkeys, or something), and when he plucked the lint from her sleeve it reminded me of grooming, and I made the colossal jump to monkeys.   God Bless them, my best friend pretty much instantly found the humor in the comment, but it took V. a bit of time to comprehend.   There could not have been a redder shade of red than what was on my face.  I even tried to remain silent for the next few minutes.  There you go, really lousy filter!

The "censor" example

Although I forgot to filter, I did remember to not make any disparaging or mean comments about monkeys.  That was censoring.

I find that both my filter as well as my censor fail me when I am in pain. Fibromyalgia is an extreme sensitivity of the nerves that cause pain, and sometimes I fail to find the humor.  At those times I neglect to take the time to find alternative words and fall back on all the swear words I've learned throughout my life.  It's just being lazy, but sometimes (and I am ashamed to admit it) those words just need to be uttered.  I really need to find some over sized bandages to plaster over my mouth at those times!!

The other time I find my censor beeping at me is when I am very, very angry. I still need to learn that I am the only one who "makes me mad!".  Push my buttons all you want, I'm the only one who will be responsible for responding to the pushing.  An attitude can be controlled, and anger is an attitude.

Most of the time, if I'm not swearing at my laptop or some other form of technology, I do stop to think before I blurt out something irretrievably horrific.  Words said in anger or any other negative way will cut the psyche deeper than any knife blade and wound more critically than any bullet.

Like the words you put on Facebook, words said aloud can never be recovered. Put a bandage on a wound along with some antiseptic, and there is a good chance that wound will heal in time.  Some wounds caused by sharp words will never heal.  In fact, depending upon the delivery, even kind words deeply wound.  You just can't take words back.

I have become much better at using my censor.  I'm more casual with my filter, and my filter is all about humor. A filter gives you a bit more leeway, and more of a chance to channel your humor.  Understand, humor that is hurtful, mean or spiteful will hurt every bit as an uncensored word so be careful when you tread that pathway. Misunderstood humor is very difficult to explain away (especially if in written form).

And my point would be...

In my humble opinion, it is more pleasant to live in my present moment if I utilize my abilities to censor myself.  I can still express all the feelings I have and be true to myself by refraining from deliberately inflicting harm.  Notice the use of the word "deliberately".  There are times when you have a thought and after expressing it in what you believe to be free from harm, you are shocked to find that what you expressed caused pain to another.  We all make mistakes, I always hope to make small mistakes.

I have been on the receiving end of filterless and censorless people.  They are always most unpleasant, and usually devoid of social conscience.  It's really difficult to find something good in that kind of personality, and my first thought is always "don't judge, you don't walk in their shoes".   I find it best for me to just ignore those people and that behavior.  

Many years ago I was taught that if you allow yourself to hate someone, that person controls you.  It's true, if you hate, your entire thought process is about the object you hate, therefore, you are controlled by your hatred.  That is not a pretty sight.

Parting words

Be true to yourself without inflicting pain, and use your censor.  You can hurt yourself with the words you use, so don't limit that thought to only dealing with other people.  Try to find the humor around you; sometimes the only person you need to laugh is you.