What’s more important: being nice? Or being real? Are they mutually exclusive? Is it possible to be kind while sharing a hurtful truth?
According to the yamas and niyamas, it is better to speak with the intention of sharing the truth rather than attempting to please and/or pacify everyone.
From a very young age, we are taught to be “nice.” We hush our children when they make offensive comments--even if they do so innocently--and we reprimand them, telling them to “be nice.”
Perhaps we could instead allow our children to speak deliberately and truthfully, even if it may ruffle some feathers, and guide them toward speaking both honestly and kindly.
Yogiraj Achala once said that you have to watch out for nice people. “People who are ‘nice’ hold truth inside until they reach a breaking point and then they become dangerously inappropriate,” claims Deborah Adele. She says she knows this because she once was one of those individuals.
We filter our words so much that some things slip out from under the rug, or the filter slides off with fatigue or a few drinks.
However, if we speak with the intention of being truthful, speaking honestly from our own experiences and beliefs, then we have a heightened chance of not harming others. If our intent is not malicious, then words cannot be used as a weapon.
Jennifer Nagy, yogini, Crossfitter, and guidance counselor at Ottawa Hills Jr,/Sr. High, wisely said, “We are responsible for our own actions and words, but we are not responsible for the reactions of others. We cannot control how others react.”
Shantideva’s famously questioned, “Why be unhappy about something if it can be remedied? And what is the use of being unhappy if it cannot be remedied?” There is no use worrying about something that cannot be taken back.
As if speaking with intention wasn’t difficult enough, we need to also think with intention. For as much as we filter our words, we typically fail to censor our thoughts. We say cruel and hurtful things to ourselves that we would never utter to another person, yet the thoughts continue unedited.
Meditation can help us slow down, block out, and/or accept the negative self-talk without judgment. It is the only check to our nonstop minds--the only way to censor those harsh thoughts.
“Too much self-centered thinking is the source of suffering. A compassionate concern for others’ well-being is the sources of happiness,” the Dalai Lama explained.
We use meditation to calm down the sadistic inner voice, and then compassion allows us to focus our energies externally in a positive light instead.
Being intentional with our words--both articulated and unspoken--can bring greater joy to us and those around us. This week let us attempt to be honest, intentional, and nonjudgmental with our words and thoughts.
*Photos by Mary Wyar Photography.