Have you ever tried to stop overreacting only to feel like you're being passive? Here's how I learned when to bite my tongue

I bit my tongue the other day.


I was chewing gum and bit down so hard on my own tongue that I thought I might need stitches.

All I could see at the time was blood, pain and a sense of the ridiculous.

“Who bites a chunk out of their own tongue?!”

In hindsight, I can see that, right at the moment when I bit down hard, I was mentally biting my tongue. Was it related? I don’t know for sure, but if not, it was a pretty ironic coincidence.

I had just been treated unjustly by someone close to me, and my auto-pilot was kicking in.

“Stuff it down. You’re not allowed to feel anger or hurt. Your only option is to resign yourself to it, and move on.”

In my last post, What Anger, Vengeance and Injustice Taught Me About Love, though, I wrote about something similar, so I should have known better.

I reasoned that, if being angry is not forgiveness, then not being angry is forgiveness. I thought that, to forgive, I had to let go of my right to feel anger or hurt about an injustice.

I guess I hadn’t quite learned the lesson, so, in the middle of this dysfunctional little ‘Bite Your Tongue, You’re a Powerless Victim” auto-reaction, I really did it.


As I cringed and tasted blood, I considered the physical manifestation of my state of mind. Maybe I shouldn’t be biting my tongue at all. Maybe I’m not making anything better by hiding.

I’d love to tell you that a great revelation came over me, as my tongue swelled up. And I guess it did, but not the way I expected.

I expected to get a clear sense of when to call someone out for their behaviour, and when to, figuratively, bite my tongue.

I expected to immediately know that feeling anger and hurt is perfectly normal and completely justified.

The truth is, though, sometimes, we’re not justified in our hurts. Sometimes, we over-react or misunderstand. The truth is, there are times when biting my tongue is exactly the right thing to do.

The revelation that came to me wasn’t a right or wrong about how and when to call someone else out. As I reflected, I was shocked to find that I was the one being called out.

Your automatic reactions are based on lies, Colleen. Every situation is different.

The enemy would love for you to disregard – or worse, judge – the hearts of others. He wants you to be hurt. And he wants you to hurt back, today, based on hurts of months, years and decades past.

Live in the moment, even if the moment is uncomfortable. Pray and trust that you will know the right way to handle this moment.

And, yes, sometimes, it will be right to bite my tongue.


I write stories from my own journey to inspire you in yours. It's more than okay to be authentic and real as you grown in faith and I want you to know you're not alone.

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