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


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