You can change your world by changing your words. Remember, death and life are in the power of the tongue! ~ Joel Osteen
Why can’t we all just get along?
Somewhere along the line, it’s become acceptable to judge each other’s states of being, and holding nothing back—to confront instead of communicate.
Taking from my own experience over time, I can say that I’ve been at the brunt of harsh judgments over quite the variety of topics. Yoga (evil), Hippie lifestyle (I shouldn’t have been shaving), breast feeding (eeew) vegan (my kids will be malnourished), meat-eater (this one was the worst) and on it went.
I learned over time that this was part of life and began my work of accepting what was. But recently, a good friend lamented over the fact that she was tired of and hurt by unending comments about her breasts. Our discussion ensued.
As if she hadn’t noticed, friends, family and co-workers found it appropriate to point out the size of her blessings, and making suggestions that ranged from completely rude to immensely insensitive.
She wondered if a sign that asked, “Are my boobs a problem for you?” would be in order.
We kind of laughed about it, but also, we knew that what she and I had experienced was just the tip of the iceberg.
Because we’ve all been there, on either end of the stick—either receiving unsolicited “advice” or handing it out.
When my partner and I worked with the homeless, we heard: “Why can’t they just get a job?”
When we dropped food to the food bank, acquaintances chastised us by saying, “those people have cell phones” as if that was reason to abandon compassion.
I could go on, but you get the idea of what I mean.
Perhaps I cannot help forming opinions or feeling that tingle of judgement when I see or read or hear something. And that is something I can work on as a member of the human family. But I can help what commentary I make. I can take a minute to consider what effect my words will have. I can either build a wall or build a bridge with another person.
Freedom of speech is good. Communication is good. Exchange of ideas is good. Solicited, thoughtful advice is good. An offering of support, a kind word, an action to lift someone from their uncomfortable situation…needed.
Insensitivity? Kinda defeats the purpose of having a voice, in my opinion. Wait, was that a judgement?
Rarely do we know what someone else is truly going through. What their path requires of them, what depths they have fallen to so they might find their heights, what happened to beat them down into hopelessness.
When I use my voice, I should first find the best within myself and then, only then, offer my wisdom. That is how, I’ve decided, I will purpose to use the gift of speech.
I learned a long time ago that knowledge and wisdom are not the same thing.
“Every man is a damn fool for at least five minutes every day; wisdom consists in not exceeding the limit.” ~ Elbert Hubbard
“Patience is the companion of wisdom.” ~ St. Augustine
“Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you’d have preferred to talk.” ~ Doug Larson
“Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” ~ Martin Luther King, Jr.
“The lotus flower blooms most beautifully from the deepest and thickest mud.” ~ Buddhist Proverb
“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood.
Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.” ~ Marie Curie
“I am determined to be cheerful and happy in whatever situation I may find myself.
For I have learned that the greater part of our misery or unhappiness
is determined not by our circumstance but by our disposition.” ~ Martha Washington
“If it’s very painful for you to criticize your friends, you’re safe in doing it. But if you take the slightest pleasure in it, that’s the time to hold your tongue.” ~ Alice Miller
I’d like to offer a few words of encouragement. If you’ve been criticized, I know how you feel. We can all use a little love.
If you’re struggling with body image, you’re not required to”shape up and lose weight” to make anyone more comfortable. This is your journey, and it must remain so.
If you’re unable to breastfeed, know that you’re still the best mother for your child.
If you’re breastfeeding, know that what you do is sacred and beautiful.
If you are suffering financially, know that money has no bearing on who you are as an infinite gift to the world.
If you are alone, know that there is a time for this and there will be a time for love. It will find you.
If you are marginalized by society, know that this is no reflection on the fact that you are an integral part of the web of life. Every soul counts. Every soul is needed. You are stardust and no-one can shut down your light.
Perhaps this sign is needed; I am human. Handle with care.
Life is made of many layers of learnings. I want to learn from you, my friend. Show me how I might be uplifting, understanding, loving, forgiving and offer words of wisdom. I know a lot, but I don’t know you. Show me. Tell me what makes your heart beat fast or slow. Share your journey. It is safe with me.
photo: author’s own
Author: Monika Carless
Editor: Travis May
Photo: Author’s Own