100-Year-Old Advice on How to Avoid Saying Things in Anger That You’ll Regret

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Saturday, January 13, 1912: It was so cold today. About all I did was to sit around and for fancy work but not without a rasping lecture from my mother. I guess she thinks I am a terrible lazy girl, part of which is true, oh well. I guess we lack something in some way or other.

Mother: Phoebe Muffly

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

Was Grandma lazy for doing embroidery, crocheting, or other “fancy work or was her mother having a bad day?

The March 1912 issue of National Foods Magazine offered the following advice for women who had trouble “holding their tongues.”

How the Nervous Woman Can Hold Her Tongue

There are a great many woman who come dangerously near to being common scolds. The reason  for this is that they are living under pressure and have  become bundles of nerves. When such a woman reaches the point where she feels “as though she should fly” let her stop at all hazards, go to her room, open the windows, lie down on the bed, and put on enough clothing to be comfortably warm.

Then relax every muscle in the body, close the eyes, let her get as nearly passive as she can. As one woman says, “Let the bed hold you—don’t try to hold the bed.” Breath in a deep, full breath and while exhaling count to ten slowly. Keep your mind on the numbers. Repeat at least ten times. Lie still for a few moments.

This relaxing and passive condition will be hard at first, but it will quiet the nerves wonderfully. You many feel frowsy. If you have time, sleep a few minutes. A few moments like this will save many a day from failure, will keep back words which may make heartaches, and prevent the home from becoming a place of railing and back-biting in scores of cases. A fine thing for the nervous woman is to take a five-minute walk in the open air every morning if she cannot take a longer one.

6 Responses

  1. Ha! I would like to see a mother with young children, meals to cook, etc. go lay down in a darkened room! A walk in the open air is a good idea for anyone.

    • I agree! A walk would be much better. I’m not sure why people “took to their beds” when there were problems in the old days. It seems like they’d just brood.

      That said, right after I wrote this I was really upset about something someone said. My husband said, “Maybe you should take that advice about going to bed instead of saying what you think.” We had a good laugh–and I’m glad I held my tongue.

  2. Is Phoebe, your mother or your grandmother’s mother? Just curious.

  3. I love this -A brisk walk sounds like a good remedy for a common scold…perhaps I should heed that advice! Or perhaps sending the small children outside for a walk or run is an equally good solution.

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