Updated: Jul 13
I was recently scrolling through social media on my break and stumbled across yet another article about what Mr. Trump had recently been up to in his latest, always interesting and often not for the better, political move. As I hovered over this article, moving on to the next one (because let’s face it, Trump discussions can be depressing), I glanced at a comment someone had made. I thought it weird that it was in no way related to the topic itself and it was frankly, really aggressive and unkind. So I opened it and read on out of sheer curiosity. Long story short, a woman had written a comment along the lines that this article had two sides to the story (as there always is) and that potentially it was biased. The people to follow in reply where brutal in response, tearing shreds off this lady about her intellectual capacity, her marital status, even her appearance – none of which was related to her comment in the slightest. Simply because she offered an opinion opposing theirs. Now I know Trump has angered many worldwide, me included. However, what struck me about this whole scenario was how lacking many of us are in self-regulation, a discipline to which I think is at the root of great unhappiness and pain on a global scale.
So it got me thinking and reviewing my own relationships and of those around me. When I dissected many conversations that had ended in being offended, hurt, angry and disappointed it was generally because either me, or the person opposite, was speaking without thought or filter. I wonder how many off hand comments have seriously devastated a persons sense of self? I was speaking to a friend recently as she explained that her son had been told by a teacher not to worry about Maths too much as he wasn’t ever going to be an “A Grader” or yet another conversation with a friend as she discussed her boyfriend flippantly telling her that her body was “prettier than her mind”. Now don’t get me wrong, it is always an individuals choice to walk away from any comment or conversation feeling hurt or angry. But how good would it be if we able to cross-check and regulate the comments that we make to avoid staining another persons brain with negativity or self doubt? What if we were a bigger part of the solution rather than the problem? Ultimately in anything really, you must lead by example in the world to which you would prefer to live.
I have had this beautiful little Buddhist teaching taped in my mind for many years and it goes a little bit like this...
"Before you speak, allow your words to pass through three gates:
Is it true?Is it necessary?Is it kind?"
I began to use this little mantra every time I felt myself at a point of frustration, anger or hurt – choosing to respond out of stillness rather than the cluttered mind chatter that is the ego. It is when we act out of the ego, our incentives or agendas are blurred as to why we are saying something in the first place. In my mind, when someone says “you know me, I just speak without a filter” or “I just say it as it is” indicates a lack of self-regulation that is absolutely critical in practising compassion to yourself and other sentient beings. Offloading carelessly with your words can seriously hurt the person opposite you – both emotionally, mentally and spiritually. The three gates don’t take long to consider before responding, and I can honestly say it has saved my unfiltered thoughts from reaching my speech many, many times.
I think often we get caught up on telling the truth at all times, no matter what the cost. But this is dangerous and can be oh, so poisonous. To tell the truth is not just important, it’s critical but it must be done at the right time, when it is necessary and in a way that shows kindness towards another living being. As you all know, telling the truth can be brutal, even when said in the best way possible. But let the truth speak for itself and connect with the person you are telling without it being muddled with your agenda and emotions. Timing and execution of the truth is what I believe is the key difference between those with extraordinary people skills, wisdom and connection to Self and those who continuously struggle in cultivating positive and yes, truthful relationships both in internally and externally.
I urge you to use the three gates as a filter before you speak next when someone asks for your opinion or you are trying resolve conflict. As the little Ayurvedic proverb says, “a well-lived day is medicine unto itself”. A day well lived is one where those who come to see you leave feeling better or more loved than when they arrived. Even with life’s tricky topics and interactions, we can always choose to show compassion.
With light and love,
Photography: A little door I photographed on the streets of Nepal – beautiful.
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