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In the Four Agreements; A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, Miguel Ruiz says to "be impeccable with your word". This is a lofty goal, but definitely one to aspire to.
We should never underestimate the power that our words have.
They can heal, create, soothe, and join people together.
They can also hurt, destroy, weaken, and tear people apart.
Most likely, at least once, every one of us has put our foot in our mouth, spilled a secret that we promised not to tell, gossiped behind someone's back, or hurt someone with our words. In the heat of the moment we often forget that what we say, we can't take back.
We can back peddle, apologize, try to pretend we didn't actually say it, but often these remedies are like putting a teeny tiny bandaid on a giant gaping wound. The sting of our words can do damage that lasts for a very long time.
Being impeccable with your word requires mindfulness.
Observe yourself for a few days and you will learn what your tendencies are. Do you talk to fill the air? Do you speak impulsively? Do you choose your words carefully or do you choose your words with carelessness?
To make sure that your words don't cause unnecessary harm, a good rule of thumb is to practice the Three Gates of Speech. Asking yourself the following three questions will take you through a process to ensure that the words you are about to say are chosen carefully and with thoughtfulness.
1. Is it true?
This can be tricky. When we were kids we would play the telephone game. The first person would whisper something in someone's ear and that person would repeat what they heard to the next person. This would go around the circle until the last person would share what they had heard. There was always an eruption of laughter when the first person revealed what they really said.
Unless it is your story to tell or it is an undisputed fact, most repeated stories.....ie, gossip, are NOT true, so don't repeat them. If what you are about to say is true, you can open the first gate, but you must get through the next two gates before you speak.
2. Is it kind?
We all know whether what we are about to say is kind or not. Sometimes we say hurtful things and say we didn't mean it, but we always mean it on some level. What good does it do to hurt someone on purpose?
Like my mom said, if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all.
Sounds pretty simple but there are exceptions to every rule, which leads to the last gate of speech.
3. Is it necessary?
This is the "gate" that requires the most mindfulness before stepping through. Sometimes we find ourselves in a predicament. Should we tell our friend the truth of what we know even if it will be painful for him or her to hear? Even if it may risk her relationship with another? Even if we aren't certain what the consequences will be. That's the thirty million dollar question. There is no simple answer, but a heart felt and well thought out process will help you make your decision.
Most spiritual practices teach the importance of right and honest speech. In the Yoga Sutras, Patanjali says, "When established in truthfulness, everything one says comes true."
Aspiring to say only what is true, kind, and necessary is an excellent way to stay true to yourself and others.
All Abhyasa Ahimsa Aparigraha Asmita-Ego Attachment Baron Baptiste Beginner's Mind Bramacharya Carl Jung Clear Seeing Colorless Comfortable Discomfort Creating Spaciousness In Mind And Body Cultivate The Opposite Deepak Chopra Dharma Empty Your Cup Enthusiasm Equanimity Family Fight Or Flight Great Vows Inner-awareness Inner Critic John Kabbatzinnb2faff332d Listening Mirrors To Ourselves Monkey Hunting Non Stealing Patanjali Pause Pillar Pleasure And Pain Posseses Us Practice Pratipaksa Bhavana Pratyahara Present Moment Present Moment Awareness Respond Instead Of React Samadhi Samskara Santosha Satya Sauca Sensual Pleasures Shadow Side Spirituality Steadiness And Ease Sthira And Sukha Strength Sustained Attention Svadhyaya There You Are Thich Nat Hahn This Too Shall Pass True Self Uncertainty Universal Truth What We Possess Wherever You Go Wisdom Yoga Philosophy Yoga Sutra 1. 14 Yoga Sutra 1.33 Yoga Sutra 2.33 Yoga Sutra 2 37cfe9965fa2 Yoga Sutra 2. 46 Yoga Sutras