Bringing awareness to how we speak – about everything – is the most effective way of creating change in our lives. Most of the time, our lives are dominated by external influences — an upsetting situation, a political event, a sideways remark from a co-worker, or an action taken seemingly against us by a friend or family member. It’s funny how we can begin a day peacefully, counting our blessings, but the moment that someone cuts us off in traffic, we suddenly have a myriad of negative words firing directly at them.
Words are powerful and begin in your consciousness.
How many times have you reached out to a friend expressing the need to vent about something that is bothering you? Pretty oftenI’m sure, and while this isn’t inherently bad — communicating our feelings in a conscious way is actually a very good thing — if we aren’t careful, we’ll end up slipping from venting a frustration to complaining, blaming, or gossiping.
The kabbalists call this type of talk lashon harah, or evil speech. This pertains not only to when we are talking negatively about other people but even when we are thinking negatively or with judgment.
Sage Resh Lakish asked one of the Tannaim, (the Sages), “What is the meaning of the verse ‘the snake bites and there is no benefit to the one who speaks. There is no benefit to the one who has the tongue’.”
The Talmud says: In the future after pain, suffering, and death are removed from this world, after the realm of the Gemar HaTikkun all the animals will gather around the snake, and they say to the snake: “We understand the negative things that all the other animals do. The lion or the lioness, for instance, would kill for the sake of feeding their family but we don’t understand why snakes bite?”
What benefit is served to anyone when a snake bites and kills? Then, and only then, the snake will know and say: “It is true, I derive zero benefits from all the harm that I cause.”
The snake will reveal to the world that all the damage that it did had no benefit for itself and had no benefit for anybody outside of itself.
The snake bite is like our negative words and judgmental thoughts. Once thought, once spoken, they create only negativity, disconnection, and even pain — with no benefit to us or anyone else.
You might wonder how something as seemingly inconsequential as a thought or word could have so much power. Kabbalistically speaking, evil speech is purely negative and therefore it disconnects us completely from Light of the Creator. Simply put, when we speak negatively, we are drawing negativity and that negativity manifests in our life.
Pretty powerful stuff. But there is a simple solution that can be applied instantly. Choose all of your words wisely.
I don’t mean to speak in a superficially positive way about things. I mean, when you feel the urge to say something mean or when you catch a mean thought, stop. Ask how you can view this in a positive way. Speak then from that place and if you can’t say anything nice, pause until you can. This is how we do the work of removing negativity and chaos in our day-to-day lives.
Think of something in your life that is challenging you or something that you wish would change, like your job, your financial situation, or a relationship. Now, look at how you consistently think or speak about this situation or person. I’m willing to bet that – no matter how well-intentioned you are – a majority of your time is spent thinking or speaking negatively about it.
When we become aware, we can start to make the positive change we truly want. For the next two weeks, I encourage you to speak only positively about the things you want to change. Even if it’s just to say “This is frustrating me but I know there is good here” or “This relationship is challenging but I know it is bringing a blessing.” We have the power to look for good which is ultimately far more powerful than the thoughtless pleasure derived from a catty or mean-spirited comment.
The road to your potential, purpose, and to the life of your dreams is traveled one step at a time. The most beautiful experience of your life is built thought-by-thought; word-by-word. When you can see that your life is made by the thoughts that you think and the words that you say, you’re given a new reverence for them.
Choose your words carefully.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION
Get your journal out and write down three areas of your life that you would like to improve. Spend the next two weeks speaking and thinking positively about these areas. Write down any changes you see and feel free to share with me here in the comments.