Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The Weight of Silence

Words carry the weight of our thoughts. It is a good exercise to count how many times we say, "But that is not what I meant;" or "Just kidding;" or even "Oops, slip of the tongue." What we mean and what we say often conflict. We use terms like semantics to explain away the disagreement, yet once the words are out - they are embedded in the minds of those who hear them. We may choose to use the written word which are just as weighty, and find ourselves either back peddling or explaining our intent or our thought process.

We often 'say the wrong thing,' yet we must be aware that the person hearing us does not know so. If you try to explain or re-word what you first said the idea that if the words were spoken, there is a place in the mind where it exists, remains. "You have gained weight!" can be very hurtful to the person being addressed. It may be true but it is unkind to make negative comments about physical appearances. Saying, "I only said it because I worry about you," changes nothing. If you were worried, you would inquire about health before calling out the weight.

When what we say and what we do are incongruous, we lose credibility. Saying, ' I would never hurt my dog,' and leaving it chained outside in the bitter cold are incongruous. The words carry zero weight. The hypocrisy that otherwise may be hidden shines bright when someone talks about love, but lies to, neglects or disrespects another.

Apologies and explanations are never enough to cause words to 'un-sting.' It is best to develop the skills to filter our words on cue. My mantra is - I would rather be kind than right. I sometimes pay the price for being kind and get walked over by people who take my kindness for weakness, but it matters not to me. I know the importance of distancing myself from people who are disrespectful of me, and have learnt how to do so with compassion. I also know that I mostly attract like minded people.

Silence carries as much if not more weight than words. Silence in the face of disrespect or neglect says more than words ever could. Yet the right words must be spoken when we see injustice or evil, for then silence gives power to the wrong doer. Knowing what to say is important but knowing when to speak and when to stay silent is an essential part of our humanity. Words are not an attempt to change others, but a tool to raise awareness. Words we use must be well thought out. Hurtful words; words that assign blame; words that accuse or belittle are a waste and should be kept out of our vocabulary. Words must be used to reach into the hearts of people and bring out the best in them. Often times I read or hear something that prompts a response. If I do respond with the written or spoken word the peace within me is what makes room for the thoughts that must be expressed. I use my words with loving care, express them and let the thoughts enhance my inner wisdom and leave.

Silence and kindness are beautiful together. I find the urge to be kind grows the more silent I become. Silence makes space within my mind for peace to reside. Dwelling on thoughts becomes unnecessary. If I stay silent my response passes through me and widens the space bringing a little more kind understanding and eventually peace has more room to expand.

Words are my friend - they have been for the longest time. I enjoy reading and writing and over time I have learned to evaluate words by the weight they carry. Silence on the other hand is my guide - it lends its power to my thoughts, words and actions; brings me peace and affords me the time and the space to introspect and get to know myself more.

'I have learned silence from the talkative, tolerance from the intolerant, and kindness from the unkind; yet, strange, I am ungrateful to those teachers.' Khalil Gibran


Friday, January 13, 2017

Authenticity



Authenticity brings peace into everyday life. It makes for self-assurance and self-worth. Honest folk admit they are imperfect and often work towards perfection. People lacking authenticity feel weak and insecure on the inside. Society has always been a bag full of people of both kinds. There is nothing wrong in being imperfect – the problem morphs when we hide our imperfections. That is a sure sign of deep rooted insecurities. 

Insecurity, to one wanting to be authentic, is the perfect opportunity to introspect and work through the issues so inner peace can be maintained. Someone who is unwilling to work through the fear and insecurity, will necessarily be dishonest. Imagine having to live with the inner conflict of knowing what is right but doing what is wrong. Such a person can become cruel, bitter, and cold. It is one reason being alone with oneself becomes an impossibility. They will always be afraid of that dark corner because it is within them – a place they dare not confront as it is filled with anger, shame, and guilt. It feels like a festering tooth abscess. You feel the throbbing pain, taste the rotting blood, and smell the putrefaction but smile through it all, hoping no one will notice. You know the smile is unreal but you cannot help but smile.

Visiting our insecurities and confronting them is frightening – but only for the moment. The shame, the guilt, and the ugliness of those darkest parts of our life hold us down and cause us suffering. Once we have worked through them though, we feel liberated. The fear of being exposed seems insurmountable, but truth has the potential to release all the negative energies and thus free us. Sometimes the material consequences appear painful, but the inner strength authenticity gives us will not just see us through this loss and pain but it opens horizons for the future we never dreamed of.

An insecure childhood due to poverty, neglect, abuse, poor parenting, abandonment, illiteracy, war, or anything else is not the fault of children with no tools to overcome the assault of their circumstances. It is therefore easier to be led by bad experiences to mold our life. Yet, as adults, it is within our power to change things and as a society we owe it to each other to help work through our fears and insecurities. The challenge is in recognizing these fears. Fear is expressed through our actions and our treatment of others and ourselves. When we as a people, normalize aberrant behavior we are choosing to lose sight of these fears. The person demonstrating this behavior will justify it and express their belief with free abandon and there is not much we can say or do that will change them. People change only when they recognize the need to change. Often this need comes when the burden of their actions overwhelms the original insecurity. If we can change ourselves, and share our experiences openly then others can emulate us and slowly we are surrounded by people on the same path.

To give up on people who are insecure and afraid is an act of cowardice but to normalize their unnatural behavior is destructive. If after trying to help the person through, you fail to get them to see their aberration, it is better to be a coward than to accept their behavior and thus destroy them from the inside out. Keep the door open for them to come back when they are ready to overcome their fears so they know they are not alone. Don’t forget being alone with shame and guilt is frightening. Once the person is ready for change, they need to feel supported. Their strength will return but for the moment they will feel defeated.

Authenticity is about the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It allows us to be who we are when we are alone or in company. This company could be strangers, friends or family and we can be who we are no ifs or buts. It is hard to be so authentic when we have built facades around us, but these facades can be dropped layer by layer. With it is the need to develop good morals and values that are based on non-violence, compassion, and love – for oneself and for others. This balance is what good character is built on. Character is a determinant of our destiny and gives us the courage to face the consequences of our actions. That is what brings joy, inner peace, self-confidence, and self-worth. We owe it to ourselves to be the masters of our own destiny and to never give the power of our own joy to others. To let others destroy us is to deny our self-worth. We are all worthy and we deserve to live so our worth is fully expressed. Let us introspect and identify our imperfections and let us examine how we are expressing these so we can move towards the perfection we have the potential to achieve. Let us help each other on this difficult journey. I am here for you and would like you to hold my hand too. 

"When you feel a peaceful joy, that's when you are near truth." Rumi