Every Tuesday morning my mother-in-law and I run errands. Our stops don’t change much, the post office, grocery store, pharmacy and bank. Once in a while we stop for special cat food.
Over the past year she’s had difficulty with her speech. She knows what she wants to say but the inability to spit it out is a source of frustration for her.
One morning when I asked what was on her shopping list she fumbled for words and got a bit hot under the collar.
“I’m sorry did you mean to say supercalifragilisticexpialidocious?”, I asked with a sincere, dead pan glance. That broke the tension in the car quicker than a spoonful of sugar.
She burst out laughing as I jumped into the middle of the verse, “So when the cat has got your tongue there’s no need for dismay, la-la-la-la-la-la-la-you’ve got a lot to say”!
Often with young children a useful phrase in the midst of an escalating tantrum is “use your words”. Great advice unless you can’t.
If words don’t come, we need to take the time to see what’s stopping them. Sometimes we can’t speak due to astonishment, fear or indignation. Sometimes someone else takes the words out of our mouthes or minds and there’s nothing left to say. Less often it’s aphasia, some sort of damage to the brain.
On the other hand shooting from the hip is a tendency to speak without thinking of the consequences or affects on others. It’s reacting rather than responding, often in an unpleasant way.
Whether or not we can find the words, the key is to be patient with our verbal and nonverbal reactions; be more comfortable with silence.
The questions to ask before speaking,
Is it true?
Is it kind?
Is it necessary?
are often attributed to Buddha, Socrates or the Victorian poet, Mary Ann Pietzker.
However, the oldest, and perhaps most legitimate source is from The Bhagavad Gita:
17.15 “To offer soothing words, to speak truly, kindly, and helpfully, and to study the scriptures: these are the disciplines of speech.”
17:16 “Calmness, gentleness, silence, self-restraint, and purity: these are the disciplines of the mind.”
Let’s give ourselves time to speak with attention to compassionate, patient and thoughtful honesty.
Namaste- “Practically perfect in every way”