Philosopher Alan Watts considered words to be like living organisms, spreading like a virus—helping or harming as they go on their way. The impact of the words you choose directly affects your partner, friends and family. To be mindful of speech means to notice your intention before you speak and to use words that accurately reflect what you are trying to say.
In the busyness of our daily lives we often forget this aspect of mindfulness, yet communication is the centerpiece of social interactions—whether in speech, twitter or email. We’ve all said things that we regret, and once the words are out there, they can’t be returned. Words possess incredible power: the power to wound or the power to heal, the power to destroy or the power to build up.
I remember an interview that I heard once with the famous comedian Jonathan Winters where he spoke openly about his abusive childhood. He recalled how his father had beaten him severely, in addition to other forms of abuse. Winters said that he would gladly take a physical beating over a verbal one anytime. The scars of verbal abuse he suffered from his father were much worse than the physical scars.
You will find that the words you speak can help you control the world around you. Your relationships can be happier and more fulfilling when your speech is intentional and carefully chosen. Thought becomes deed through language. Speech acts are powerful because most of the actions that people engage in — in business, in marriage, in parenting — are carried out through conversation. But most people speak without intention; they simply say whatever comes to mind. Speak with intention, and your actions take on new purpose.
Check back next week for more info on words you speak to your partner…are they giving life or death to your relationship?