Will you accept this simple declaration? A LOT!!
And if you want to explore the truth in that, reflect on your childhood and adolescent and high school years for a few minutes. I will predict that most people can recall, word for word, some hateful, mean, demeaning or bullying statement made TO you at those times in your life….from friends, classmates, neighbors, and, sadly, family. Consequently, I hope it helps you realize how much your words count today and every day! And how words have such STICKING POWER.
As a psychologist, I’ve learned that I must choose my words carefully — in therapy sessions, in presentations and consultations, and in writing. And even as I monitor myself carefully, I slip and make mistakes — not because I have negative intentions, but because I MISS the impact of the words on the individual and/or the audience….and when it’s the written word, I’m in the dark until I get feedback. And I’m fully aware of that point as I write this.
What we are faced with today — especially in politics — but also on all forms of media — is an onslaught of negativity. And that negativity “lowers” to insults, ugly sexist, racist, painful statements. And every time we hear such comments, OR sadly repeat them, we multiply the negativity. If I had young children I would fantasize keeping them away from all social media right now — to protect their brains as well as their sensitive emerging selves– at least until we all get a grip!
We truly have to calm down. And that’s for individual sanity and stress reduction, let alone the impact on us as a hopefully caring society….Some people believe they hurt the person to whom they hurl ugly, insulting lies — and although they do, I am concerned many do not understand the negative impact on the person WHO SAYS THE WORDS/INSULTS. That energy stays, even sticks, in the head/brain of the person who speaks them. The harm is to self as well as to “the other.” The negativity creates an escalation in stress and reduces the ability to think and act with clarity.
Let me use the words of others, from decades of living and learning.
First the Buddha: a statement is only proper and kind when, “It is spoken at the right time. It is spoken in truth. It is spoken affectionately. It is spoken beneficially. It is spoken with a mind of goodwill.”
And from Thich Nhat Hanh, a poet and monk: “Consider each word carefully before you say anything, so that your speech is ‘Right’ in both form and content. You have a right to tell another everything that is in your heart with the condition that you use only loving speech. If you are not able to speak calmly, then don’t speak that day.”
Yes, those two quotes set a high bar…. so even if all you do is reflect on how FAR from that standard you or those you interact with or hear or observe in any public/media setting, just doing that reflection might help you gain some perspective.
We are in a time where extreme, angry, critical, and fearful differences are expressed. Choosing the way they are expressed is critical IF the intent is to be heard, to change things and make a positive difference. As long as the language is so hostile and negative, the core messages are lost. And we need to hear everyone if we are to be a sane, caring and high functioning community.
See if you can do something to make a positive difference… for yourself and for those you care about.