Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Words We Use

It is January 1. This means half the people we all know are full of New Year’s resolutions. There has always been a joke that most people do not last through January on their resolutions, and I never really understood why when I was growing up. I have come to realize it is because we have to be truly committed to the resolution. We have to recognize how it will actually help us and the world. We have to be invested in wanting something to be different.

I have written before about using intentions rather than resolutions. That still holds true for me. Intentions are about how we interact with the world less than they are about the outcome of that interaction. The same outside shape of the body can be used in gymnastics, acrobatics, and yoga, but the intention is different between the three. Our intentions are what define how we engage with ourselves and the world.

About a week ago, I was frustrated with a situation, and I mentioned that a person with whom I was interacting was useless. A friend caught me in that moment, and asked me to think about what I had said and how putting that energy into the world changes the actual structure of the world. What if I had not said that? Might the person have been more useful?

I hate gossip. I have not touched on this subject in over a year, but I did back in October 2012. At its root, gossip is about using our words to bring energy into the world that harms people. That may not be the intention of the gossip, but that is essentially what it does. It brings the energy of the words into existence.

But at another level, we need to vent. We need to talk about what is bothering us, or it can become even stronger and make us even crazier. Yoga has helped me see and understand how it is not the situation that causes problems so much as it is our response to the situation. But there is another level where we live in a very difficult, fast-paced world, and venting is sometimes necessary.

The other day I was frustrated by a situation, frustrated by a person involved in the situation, and I had been venting about it all day. But did I have to use the word, “worthless”? Is there another way to vent without bringing the negative energy into my being and the world? The underlying issue was that people were not getting what they needed, and I saw one person as the obstacle to them getting it. But the truth is that this one person is not the only problem. The issue is much larger, and my words did not reflect that.

The other place I see this play out is with sarcasm and jabs at people we all love. How is it that we have learned to interact with each other by poking fun at them? Although we may be joking (and I would argue there is always an underlying truth to what we say), the universe does not recognize tone. The energy of our words are the same regardless of the smirk or chuckle that accompanies them.

Sure, it can be easier to poke fun than to have a serious conversation. I am one of the first people to go there. But why? What purpose does it serve? Frankly, it keeps us at a distance from people. It is a way to interact without really having to interact. It is a disconnected connection, similar to facebook, but in-person. In fact, I see people being more honest on facebook sometimes than they are in person. It creates its own barrier, so we can be more honest. In-person, the only barrier we have is sarcasm.

A new year is just a reminder to stop and assess. Where are we on our paths? Are we open to new possibilities? Are we expressing ourselves as we want to be seen in the world? And if not, how can we change our expression? I think one of the best ways is to change the words we speak. Is that person useless? No. Is the situation frustrating? Yes. But I can ask myself what I can do to change it instead of just throwing up my arms and screaming.

Of course, I can never stop the water cooler gossip (does anyone actually talk to people around the water cooler at their office? I don’t!), but I can change how I speak. I can choose to use words that bring positive energy into the universe instead of negative energy. Will I be perfect? I am pretty sure the answer is no. But I do intend to change how I speak. In some ways it is a scary prospect. Our society is built on sarcasm, and the current non-stop political environment only fuels the flames, but we each can take a stand. A stand to be mindful of the words we use.

Are you in?


© Rebecca Stahl 2014, all rights reserved.

The post, The Words We Use, first appeared on Is Yoga Legal.

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