Learn to Hold Your Tongue

An important skill in life is learning how to hold your tongue. It’s a key skill that if ignored will bring many a misfortune. The more you say, the more you are at risk of saying something stupid or even dangerous.

In Russia in 1825, there was a rebellious uprising demanding that the country modernise and change. The uprising was brutally crushed and the new king – Nicholas I sentenced the leaders of the rebellion to death.

On the day of the hanging, one of the rebellion’s leaders Kondraty Ryleyev stood at the gallows with the noose around his neck. As the trapdoor opened he dropped down through the floor, but remarkably the rope around his neck snapped and instead of being hung he crashed to the floor below; he had survived the execution!

At the time, events like this were considered a sign from god, and the person saved from execution should be pardoned. As Ryleyev rose to his feet, startled and muddy but believing he was saved from execution he turned and shouted out to the crowd: “you see, in Russia they don’t even know how to do anything properly, not even how to make a rope!” The crowd laughed at his witty remark.

A messenger was immediately sent to King Nicholas I to tell him the extraordinary news. Surprised, but following protocol the King sat down to sign the official pardon for Ryleyev and grant him his freedom. As he started signing the papers he asked the messenger “Did Ryleyev say anything after this miracle?”

“Sire”, the messenger replied, “he said that in Russia they don’t even know how to make rope”. The King immediately stopped and said; “in that case, let us prove the contrary” and tore up the pardon.

The next day Ryleyev was hanged again but this time the rope did not break.

Your Words Cannot Be Taken Back

Learn to hold your tongue and keep your words under control. The momentary satisfaction you gain from your witty remark may cost you afterwards. It may be an immediate consequence or something more covert; people may hold a grudge or resentment towards you and seek to get revenge.

Be careful with your words and be wary of what you say. Once you let the words out they cannot be taken back.

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