I have a chalkboard hanging in my entryway that I take down from time to time and let my kids decorate and write on. About a month ago my daughter asked me to take it down so she could update it. She asked me nonchalantly to help her spell out the sentence "nice words to other people."
This sweet quote has been hanging there for all to see and as a daily reminder to myself and our family to remember to try to only speak kind words to one another. It has become a mantra of sorts as we go about our daily lives. I’ve used it as I hear my two kids fight with each other day in and day out. It has helped us have a dialogue around how to use kindness even when upset and that it’s OK to disagree but to fight with fairness and respect.
It has also helped me when upset with my husband to be reminded that kindness and gentleness matters greatly in our most intimate relationships. That speaking my truth or how I am feeling in the moment is necessary but that I should do so with discretion. I’m reminded of the saying to "treat others as you want to be treated yourself. " If I want to be treated with compassion, I must learn to be compassionate in all of my interactions; even when it’s challenging.
The last few days I’ve experienced both sides of the kindness coin and have felt what it’s like to be on the receiving end of words being spoken that lacked compassion. I’ve also been blessed with words that have been used towards me that came from a caring and concerned place. We’ve all been there and I don’t have to tell you how it feels to receive these remarks. In the words of my 6 year old daughter, one fills our bucket up and one empties it.
I believe that underneath every challenging situation or conversation is a lesson we need to learn. If we are able to open ourselves up to it and take a deep look at ourselves (the good, bad, and ugly) we will grow and learn from the experience.
As I sat in contemplation this morning on my yoga mat, with emotions and tears coming to the surface, I asked for guidance to help me see the truth and uncover the messages I needed to hear. As I moved through my sun salutations I felt my mood begin to improve and the fog begin to lift.
The self doubt that had started to creep in and the questions of, “am I doing the right things?”, “am I a good enough mom, yogi, teacher, coach?” began to fade away. I began to see and feel our oneness and that universally we are all worthy at our core. We are all doing the best that we know how and the best that we can in each an every moment (well, at least most of us anyway).
Have you ever felt like your yoga teacher has created the class specifically for you and that the words that they say are meant exclusively to help you on your journey? As I felt the waves of emotions ebb and flow I heard by teacher say, “words should only be used to heal, bless, or teach.”
With my next breath I knew that I had received my message. As much as I focus on the words I use towards others, I realize that I get to choose how I take in other peoples words. I can choose to reflect on my conversations and take them in as an affront or I can use them as a way to further my growth and continue to teach me what I need to learn.
I believe that there is an art to listening fully and an art to speaking your truth in a loving and compassionate way.
You’ve likely met those who are skilled in this arena and others who are not. In the past, when dealing with those who aren’t, I’ve let it hurt me deeply or have questioned my worthiness as a result. My practice now is to allow for time and contemplation to help uncover the teachings I need, to take from it what is helpful (to heal me, bless me, or teach me) and to let everything else roll of my back. Easier said than done, but I figure if my 6 year old can do it, I can to.
In the words of Mother Theresa, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”