Here's my latest keeper: "Between the stimulus and the response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and freedom."
~ Viktor Frankl
This comes by way of a great talk by Tara Brach on Mindful Speech.
It's a meaty talk - but essentially she asks us to get curious about the way we talk to each other.
The difference between interpersonal heaven and hell is determined by our capacity to speak to each other with great care, respect, and kindness. Even when we are emotionally triggered, even when the other is being a knucklehead - we can pause and suss out what's up with us and be more mindful about how our words will impact another. Will they bring healing or will they bring wounding; will they create connection or disconnection?
Tara offers a 4-step process to help us skillfully use the space between stimulus and response to shift into the habit of mindful speech:
1. PAUSE when we notice we are getting emotionally triggered (the biggest challenge!). This can be quite subtle. Even when we think we aren't triggered, but simply have a burning passion to say whatever we want - come what may - that's a moment to get really-really curious and PAUSE.
2. IDENTIFY our intention. Does our intention for speaking come from our heart (kindness, respect, care) or does it come from a pattern of needing to prove our worth, assert our opinion - or some other manifestation of urgency, control, and/or fear.
3. CONSIDER the outcome of our words. Again, will they create connection or disconnection, healing or harm?
4. REMEMBER what matters the most; what we highly value. This puts us in touch with our core values and supports us to truly, madly, deeply live from our deepest truths.
Oh - and don't forget to add a 5th step: Refrain from JUDGING yourself in the process of getting mindful and curious about your speech. It's a process; learning to tame old habits of reactivity; learning to calm down our justifications for speaking in a mindless and habitual way.
Patience and a sense of humor keep us out of the self-judging zone. If you blurt out something unkind, go back to #1 and PAUSE and apologize and begin again from a more mindful, loving place.
Notice what happens.
Hopefully it will be something new and enjoyable - for all.
You'll notice that the outcome feels good; you feel good; others feel good.
I know this sounds like too much to do in that space - but with practice it kicks into autopilot and requires less time. I guess it's kind of like that old adage: Take a deep breath and count to 10 before speaking. The difference with the 4-step process is that it gives us something tangible to do during that deep breath. The more we practice this, the more we will naturally be mindfully loving with our speech and actions.
This neat little internal inventory has the potential of preparing us to speak with the utmost awareness and kindness. I have committed it to memory and plan on recalling it when in the heat of the holiday season. I invite you to do the same.
Here's to LEAPING into radical kindness with every word we speak!