Relationships are central to the life of every human, and we are all relating at all times.
How? By relating to another person, to the environment, to a belief or perception, to our own self, or anything and everything. Through the act of feeling, believing, speaking, or interacting in any way, a relationship is taking place. And in the world of relationship, words and thoughts (e.g., unspoken words) can have the strongest influence on the outcome and dynamics of relating.
Words are often the beginning of relationship, and the end.
When encountering harsh language the natural tendency is to be defensive, and return aggression with more angry language.
But before it gets to the point where the relationship ends, love can be salvaged through thankfulness.
Through gratitude, the shadow side of negative language can become a gift. Then words can never hurt you, and can only ever uplift.
Stronger than a sword, words are the only source for bringing peace, both within oneself and the world outside.
Swords, literal or figurative, can only cut. Verbal swords can slice to the core, flaying the body until the soul stands naked. This happens most often with intimate relationships, and there is little to no defense for verbal attacks. Why would a person want to have defenses with somebody that is loved? Defensiveness is the antithesis of love. Yet the result of harmful words are the deepest with lovers, family and friends.
Words create reality and create the patterns of life.
Words spoken to ones own self can be the most detrimental of all words. Whether vocalized or not, the internal impact literally guides the direction of life. The words a person speaks to their own self are the most influential force in a persons life. The self-spoken language shades all perspective, and colors all experience.
This means that a person who is self-harming with toxic thoughts will receive positive words from others with skepticism. The individual who denigrates themselves will hear mockery and derision in the most affirming of comments. Positive language, gratitude and appreciation cannot be received by the individual who is not thankful for their own self. Whoever berates and criticizes their own attributes, traits and humanity will never fully receive loving phrases and tender sensitivities shared verbally. The self-hating individual cannot receive words of love.
Hurtful words spoken by others are painful because they are always true.
This can be a challenging concept to understand.
The literal words and way a person is saying and meaning what they are saying, are not necessarily true.
It is how those words are interpreted at the personal, internal level that makes those words true.
If a person calls me ugly, I know it’s not true. Except for the areas in myself where I do feel ugly.
And those ugly areas within myself, I don’t see. But when somebody would call me ugly, and I have a reaction to what they are saying, there is a hidden sympathetic vibration of ‘ugly’ within that responds beneath conscious awareness.
The way they mean ugly, and the way I would receive it are completely different. What they mean by ugly is something totally different than how I would feel ugly about myself, and may not see or recognize.
The hardest part is recognizing and seeing the self-denigrating language that exists within. It is often hidden, and not acknowledged.
So while I know that I am not ugly in the way somebody else says and means it, I do know that I view myself as ugly in ways that I see and mean it.
However, the words spoken by the other, and that person, become the target for my anger, hurt, and frustration. Often times the person is pushed away, and the internal causes for the hurt remain unresolved.
And while this is a simple example, the words spoken by others that are hurtful can vary greatly. From being told that one is ugly, to abusive, using, hateful, rude, thoughtless, insensitive, stupid, mean, unloving, not sexy, immature, passive-aggressive, un-evolved, not spiritual, hyper sensitive, not masculine or feminine, and every other painful words expressible; are only true to the depth of which they can be felt within.
The validity of words is accepted within, no matter who speaks them.
Ideally the people in life speak truthfully and with gentle integrity. Unfortunately, society can be most unkind with words and emotional expressions. Our loved ones can speak with impassioned anger, and say truths in the most thoughtless and painful ways.
Once it is spoken, it cannot be unsaid. The influence of words remains, even if one regrets the words spoken and wishes to recant.
Rather than speak harmful words and ask for forgiveness, do not speak them in the first place.
Or speak with skill, taking the time to reflect and figure out how to share what is being felt before exploding in a verbal barrage.
Yet the truth of toxic language and word-explosions are real, it happens, and it hurts.
Self-awareness becomes the gateway to ask, is it true, is it not true?
And in yielding pride, with humility and integrity, looking within one can silently face the self-perceived flaws, the harmful internal dialogue, and the painful belief structures that are the real cause for separation from our loved ones and the world at large.
Through self-introspection the truth can be unveiled, and the poisonous self-harming internal dialogue put to rest.
Untrue words spoken by others generate no internal emotional reaction.
As I understand and accept the truth of who I am, the influence of words waxes and wanes. The words spoken by others remain on the outside, and are accepted and embraced for their validity. The filter of self created through internal awareness gives me the ability to see what is truly being communicated past the veneer of language. The soul, and its ineffable expression, communes through stillness. Whatever arises that disrupts that knowing-sense, is a cherished gift that allows me to liberate myself from the bondage of pride, hate, anger, fear, and aggression.
Humility and yielding allows the validity and truth of words to be seen for what they are.
Perhaps that person who is saying something hurtful has a valid point. But they don’t know how to say it in a thoughtful way. At least they have the courage to express their heart and spirit. Their criticism is a gift. The blame, judgment and rage being offered is a storm cloud with golden lining.
Only when a person stops dialoging and grows silent that there is no hope, and love has gone away.
Draw the line with appropriate language.
This does not mean that hurtful, toxic words are to be accepted by others as a means for spiritual growth. It also means drawing a line for what is appropriate to nurturing oneself and family. Being around a person who constantly insults, denigrates, berates and puts others down is one of the most damaging experiences in life. Self-respect and self-love demands healthy boundaries.
For love and respect to blossom open-hearted sincerity and gentle words of integrity are essential. Do not hide behind words, or speak soft-words out of fear. Speak openly, truly, with courage from within.
Consider the golden rule as it applies to language, words and feelings.
If it is a way you would not want to be spoken to, then never speak that way to another person.
The feelings behind words communicate and draw out similar feelings in the people around us. And unless that person has a depth of self-awareness that can transform those words, and see past the feelings, and integrate what is being said in a healthy way, a fight can ensue with negative language. Speaking with anger and rage will generate angry, furious responses.
Be thoughtful with language, first to oneself, and as a natural result, to others.
Consider, is this how you would want to be spoken to?
When spoken to with anger, how do you respond?
Don’t you think others would also respond in similar ways?
If you want to hear and understand somebody, how do you wish to be approached?
Would you speak to a stranger in such a way?
How does a loved one need to be spoken to?
Would you speak to a person you respect, a religious figure or guru with such language?
Always remember the four gateways of speech.
Is it true?
Is it necessary?
Is it kind?
Is it the right time?
And the fifth gateway of speech: Is it Loving?
Through this kind of alchemy, accepting the hurtful words of others as a gift for introspection and internal awareness allows the child’s incantation to become true.
Sticks and Stones may Break my Bones, Words can Never Hurt Me.
Instead, toxic language becomes liberty, and a means for self-discovery and empowerment.
Words become a healing force for peace, within and without.
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Rachel Nussbaum
Photo: elephant archives