The dumb things people say, right? Our words can be healing or hurtful. Usually I find it’s the latter. But I try not to be bitter or judgmental about it because I don’t think most of us mean to be unkind. I really don’t. Having suffered through some pretty stupid and painful remarks (especially as a widow), and reflecting on why in the hell someone would say some of the things they’ve said, I find it hard to believe that the majority of those people meant to hurt me in any way. (AND, I have to acknowledge that I have said my share of hurtful things to others, too!)
Most of us aren’t mean people, we just lack an adequate verbal filtration system. We speak before we think.
My verbal filtration system has gotten a little rickety and rusty, so I’ve been practicing the art of quiet presence. I don’t want to say anything hurtful and stupid. Most people are struggling hard enough to get through the day as it is. Hurtful and stupid tend to coexist, have you noticed that? Hurtful and stupid are the Cinderella sisters of conversation. They’re the girls no one really wants to take to the ball and yet they arrive at the party anyway, wearing some garish get-up, perfume that smells a lot like vodka, and too much lipstick and mascara.
I’ve been practicing this art of quiet presence to steel myself against saying anything I haven’t thought through. I want to develop a strong verbal filtration system because I want to be the kind person in the room.
This new verbal filtration system will sift through my swirling, chaotic thoughts and basically shut me up before I speak. I’m designing it to filter out stupid, hurtful, jealous, and meaningless remarks. For example: Let’s say I’m at a party and I see a friend eating her 3rd helping of baked spaghetti. As she giggles and says, “I know I shouldn’t…,” I start thinking about how heavy she’s gotten and how bad all that trans-fat is for her heart, especially at her age and the sentence that forms is, “Whoa! Now that you are post-menopausal, have you thought about going on a watermelon diet?” But the filter spots STUPID, HURTFUL JEALOUS AND MEANINGLESS words and throws the whole sentence out! It freezes me in my tracks so I can think of something else to say, in a moment of quiet presence. This moment of sacred silence gives me the opportunity to think of something helpful and then say the only thing that will help my dear friend her put her fork down: “Do you have any idea how beautiful you are?” (ALL of us have beauty, so it’s not a little white lie!)
Which one of us doesn’t want to hear that we are loved, that we are beautiful, that we matter? When we filter our thoughts before we speak, our tendency is to speak from love, which gives us the power to truly help another person.
This personal experiment has worked so well that I’m totally fired up! I’m going to keep working on my new filtration system. I’m going to beef it up and polish it often. There is enough meanness in the world right now and as a person of free will, I choose not to be a part of that.
I don’t want to be a part of the selective truth, sexist, naked meanness “free speech” program currently in vogue. I want no part of it! (Seriously, has hearing nasty stuff about other people helped you in any way?)
With the art of quiet presence, filtering my thoughts before I speak, I choose to say loving words that bring peace and truth into every encounter I have. Join me, and let’s start a revolution!