“Action speaks louder than words, but not nearly as often.” Mark Twain
Are you ready to change everything about the way you speak? I don’t think any of us realize or appreciate the power that our thoughts and words have on our lives, and the lives of those around us. We face a daily battle with both our thoughts and our words – most of us believe that what we think and what we say are fleeting, leaving no trace of ever having been there in the first place, and having no effect. But that’s not true; they do, profoundly so.
To quote one of the most conscious people I know, my husband, “The powerful truth is that where we invest our thoughts is where we invest our soul.” If we spend our day with thoughts of anger, jealousy, or disappointment, then that is where our soul is placed, and it stays there. When we wake up the next day for instance, feeling sad, it should be no surprise because we have put and left our soul in a dark room. On the other hand, if we spend our day dedicated to and invested in genuinely positive actions and thoughts, then we’ll wake up the next day feeling light and hopeful because we have positioned our soul in a happy place.
One of the most important choices we make is where we choose to focus our mind – it’s the difference between living a life of overall fulfillment, or of having an underlying sense of disappointment. When you catch yourself thinking negatively, acknowledge the thought – a thought is just a thought and it can be changed. Let it go.
Think before you speak…
We have the power to change our thoughts, but we can’t change what we say once we’ve said it, it’s already out there. A few weeks back, I addressed the “Art of Listening,” and this week I find myself focusing on the “art” of communication. Is communicating an art form? Poetry recitals and storytelling circles, yes. But actually talking with another human being, is that art? Perhaps, if we treated it that way, we would be more thoughtful about what we put out there. Poets, writers, and musicians take their time in crafting what they want to say, the message they wish to put across, nothing is haphazard.
William Shakespeare said, “When words are scarce they are seldom spent in vain.” It makes me wonder how often we just say things because we can, without any accountability or sense of consequence. I’m not sure many of us are quite as crafty, thoughtful or conscious of our intentions during most of our exchanges. We throw words around as if they contain no sort of substance or energy; we use profanities and engage in seemingly idle gossip and think nothing of it.
The Zohar says that negative speech is the worst form of darkness there is. Kabbalists explain that where we place our consciousness is what stays with us; when we judge another person, speak ill of them, and focus on the dark and negative aspects about them, we only awaken that within ourselves, drawing that same negative energy into our lives. Everyone has good and bad – everybody – surely the most beneficial way to go through life is by choosing to focus on the good because that’s the energy we want to invite and welcome into our lives.
If I can’t appeal to you on a spiritual level then perhaps I can appeal to you on another level…
Remember the old playground chant, “I’m rubber you’re glue, whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.” Academically speaking, studies show that because of the psychological phenomenon “Spontaneous Trait Transference” you unintentionally transfer the traits you ascribe to others back onto you. If I say to a friend, “Betty is really arrogant.” My friend will unconsciously associate that trait of arrogance with me. However, if I say, “Betty is brilliant and hilarious.” I am linked to those qualities. What we say about other people sticks to us.
We need to pay more attention to what comes out of our mouths so we can shift the tendency to speak negatively to expressing ourselves through more positive and uplifting things, because as kabbalist Baal Shem Tov said, “Every word that comes out of our mouth takes with it a part of our soul.” Essentially what the Baal Shem Tov is saying is that every time we speak, we let out an aspect of our soul – of ourselves – and the magic behind this idea is that every word we utter is actually a means to sustain our soul. Everything about us, everything about our lives, the goodand the bad, is dependent on what we say – we draw the correlating energies into our lives. We choose to either sustain or take away from ourselves through the things we say.
It’s a powerful moment when we realize that a part of our soul goes out with a word, leaving a space, and inviting that same energy to fill it. With this understanding we can change everything about the way we talk, what we choose to say, and how we communicate effectively with everyone in our lives.
We live in a world where we are encouraged to speak our minds. A world where it is made easy to just blurt out all kinds of things; it’s fast, instantaneous, but is everything that we put out there meaningful and useful, or are we just contributing to the noise? It’s so easy to just talk, to instruct, tell, inform, and advise, but ask yourself if the information you are about to share has meaning or value for others. Our words have power, and we need to use them wisely.
THOUGHT INTO ACTION:
Crafty communicators, I challenge you to change up your vocabulary for one week to reveal the impact our words have on our surroundings and us. If you are predisposed to negative speech, catch yourself in the moment and invert the energy – focus on the positive – keep it light! If you are inclined to use words like, “hate, no, can’t” replace them with, “love, yes, able” and see what happens.