When you are alone,
watch your mind.
When you are with others,
watch your mouth.
–Tibetan saying from Lambre: Dawn of Enlightenment by Lama Choedak Yuthok
One of the few childhood sayings that is completely erroneous is “Sticks and Stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” I’ve learned the hard way that words can cut deeper than samurai swords.
I’ve always wanted to be a Jedi Knight so I could use the force to fight people without touching them. Little did I know, I’ve already got that power and I’ve gone to the Dark Side. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been able to make people cry just using words.
Like a repentant Darth Vader, I have decided to use my powers for healing rather than harm. I am vowing today to change my ways and practice what the Buddha called “right speech.”
“Buddha explained right speech as follows: 1. to abstain from false speech, especially not to tell deliberate lies and not to speak deceitfully, 2. to abstain from slanderous speech and not to use words maliciously against others, 3. to abstain from harsh words that offend or hurt others, and 4. to abstain from idle chatter that lacks purpose or depth.” (www.thebigview.com)
Number 3 is my kryptonite. Starting today, I’m going to try to be aware of every word that comes out of my mouth. Here are my red flags:
Profanity–Ever since I saw Bad News Bears when I was 10 years old, profanity has been a staple in my word diet. It got to the point where I used profanity without even knowing it. I’ve silenced a number of authority figures in important meetings by saying “Can we please move the f*#k on?” when I thought I was saying “Can we please move on?”
After much soul searching, I realized I swore when I felt powerless. If someone just dumped me or fired me, they would immediately be a “f#*kin’ something.” When I was losing an argument or a fight, I often resorted to profanity or ad hominem attacks.
Profanity made me feel tough. It shielded my insecurities and prevented anyone from getting close enough to see the real me. I’m dropping the armor–no more swearing.
Psychological Daggers–I’ve always been able to spot weaknesses. I’ve got the uncanny ability to combine words that dig right into the heart of someone’s insecurities. Like an evil ninja, I attack when people are most exposed.
Today, I sheath the daggers and shurikens.
SH#T!–I often find myself yelling exclamations or sounds of displeasure. “Urgh, we are late again.” “Shiiiiiii…, would you go before the light changes.”
Most of these exclamations stem from impatience. By eliminating these sounds I hope to increase my patience, tolerance, and compassion for others.
Moreover, I am going to increase the number of positive words that come out of my mouth. One way I’ve jump started this endeavor is to say “love” to my wife every time I talk to her on the phone. “Hi, Honey. I love that you called me during your break. Wasn’t that a lovely class we had last night?…I love you. Bye.”
Other words that I am focusing on are peace, thank you, compassion, fun, and beauty. Fun is a great one to replace the F-word. “FUUUUUU…NNNY, how you slammed your brakes in the middle of the intersection, you Beeeaaa…utiful elderly driver. Thank you for reminding me to slow down.”
Peace be with you, my compassionate friends. Thank you for reading, sharing, and/or smiling.
Do words themselves effect us as viscerally as I think they do? Or am I being too puritanical? Please share.
- Return to Sender – Buddha Style (zen-haven.com)
- Watch Your Mind, Watch Your Mouth: A New Year’s Resolution from Compassionate Rebel (Compssionaterebel.wordpress.com)
- The Word (knockedoverbyafeather.wordpress.com)
- When You Do Things from Your Soul – B4Peace (heartflow2013.wordpress.com)
- Happy New year and B4peace (knockedoverbyafeather.wordpress.com)