“abstinence from false speech, abstinence from malicious speech, abstinence from harsh speech, and abstinence from idle chatter.”
-Buddha on definition of Right Speech
I can’t help but think that the last 6 weeks has been some sort of lesson gauntlet for me to run and maneuver through to test my skills. I’m not sure how well I’ve done, but I’m not feeling too great from it. Inside I’m feeling battered and raw, my emotions waiting in fear as to what might be dredged up and stepped upon next. However, the whole thing has gotten me to think and be aware of certain things about me. Despite the painful realizations, I think I might be grateful.
My first dagger of a lesson is one that has been stabbing me for years. I think it’s time to actually examine it and perhaps help seal the wound. That lesson is mindfulness of words. My mouth has gotten me in trouble, awkward situations, embarrassing moments, and places I never want to be again. I have the annoying ability to just say whatever I feel like and ignore the repercussions that might be felt by others. Case in point A: my friend brought up my thoughtlessness of things I have said to her recently and further back that hurt her feelings. Although I feel have legit reasons for saying what I have said in random conversations, I have still hurt and angered a dear friend of mine with my unintentional flippancy. Case in point B: My work is very people oriented. I’m in a room with a person for nearly an hour or more and many times conversations are started. I have found that I have the horrible ability to just converse about anything and sometimes things that can be perceived as unprofessional are said. Sometimes it is just a matter of saying too much or sharing too much. Either way, later I am constantly kicking myself for it, hating myself for something I should be better at doing. I’m supposed to be trained to be better, and I just can’t seem to get there. Case in point C: I can be such an ass sometimes with my words. Perhaps it’s an attempt to be witty, but in return it just comes out pithy and insulting. My attempts of sarcasm and dry humor comes off as irritating and immature. I have rubbed many a fellow colleague the wrong way due to this trait of mine. It’s juvenile for me to continue this way.
So what can I do about this thoughtlessness of words? Slowing down and thinking would be a good step I think. Choosing to listen more than speaking is better too. But it has to be more than that. I wish I could be more introverted and more guarded about what I say, but that isn’t who I am. I’m torn though because it was always my understanding that my off the cuff way with words was something many thought to be good and entertaining. Yet it has often bitten me in the rump. If I could speak in the same manner that I write on here, in the sense that it will take me an hour to come out with one paragraph, then maybe I would have a better sense of what I should be saying. My friend who is angry at me told me that an option is always to just keep my mouth shut. Yes this is an option, but not one that I can do while still being true to myself. However, I am now uncomfortable whether speaking or staying silent. One is going against my nature, the other gets me into messes. I could always think about how my words might affect another person. Its difficult to always know what may offend or hurt another person, but I could let go of some of my sarcasm and saying anything slightly damaging to anyone, including myself.
To start, I think I want to practice mindful speech at work. I will try to let my words always be harmonious and promoting happiness among all involved. I’ll think before speaking to co-workers and clients. I’ll actively listen to others, allowing them to say as much as they want without interrupting. I think I will keep the conversation focused on others instead of myself. I’m never one to pry into other’s business because I think it rude to do so, but if they choose to share, I will let them. And lastly, I think not sharing so much of my own thoughts will be a great idea. Idle chatter is definitely one of my sins.
This is something I’m going to have to ponder for much longer. However, I will strive for grace and mindfulness. As I ponder I will also read and repeat this in my head to perhaps change my thoughtlessness of speech. Updates to follow on this. Hopefully they will be good ones.