“Be impeccable with your word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.”
~ Don Miguel Ruiz
While sitting in a restaurant today I had a major league “ah-ha” that really whacked me upside the head, and I would like to share this realization with you. Perhaps you might be able to relate with it (or at least know someone who will ), because at first glance it appears to be a very innocuous form of behavior based on the fact that we all tend to “do it” on a regular basis. It seems to be inculcated in our culture. Perhaps for that very reason it is something to which we all need to pay attention because it affects the emotional (and thus physical) well being of all of us.
The “it” to which I am referring is gossip, and the mindless spreading of hearsay, comments and rumors. As I sat trying to mind my own business while eating my lunch, the people in the booth directly behind me were “having” someone by the name of Jane for lunch … and she wasn’t even there! I honestly did my best to dial it out, but the energy of their conversation was all pervasive. They were talking about her in such a disparaging manner that it was painful to hear. It was in that moment that I became aware that I have also on occasion been a target of the same sort of mindless, groundless gossip and rumors. And yes, I too have also feasted on savory gossip and noshed on tasty unfounded rumors with others. In a microsecond, I understood that the pain I was feeling for Jane and those who were talking about her had became my pain because they were a reflection of me.
At some point or another in our lives we have all been the target of gossip and rumors, as well as participants in the spreading of them. It is insidious, toxic and yet, oh so juicy. Unless we are mindful and vigilant, it’s quite easy to fool ourselves into believing that what is coming from our minds, mouths and hearts is harmless idle chatter. That’s how gossip works. It’s hard to detect when we are in the process of gossiping because it is provocative and seductive, but most of all, it is destructive. Why is it that gossip is so prevalent among us? Many people find some sort of power in gossip because it represents “inside” knowledge that not everyone else is privy to. Some people find great comfort in knowing they can commiserate (in this context meaning “share their misery”) with like-minded people.
Others may find gossip and the spreading of rumors a passive-aggressive way of dealing with their feelings of jealousy or envy, or perhaps their own insecurities and fears. For others it may mean that by putting someone else down (who is seldom present) it somehow makes themselves feel more important. The reasons we gossip are legion, however, not one of them justifies the activity.
This message is a reminder of how easy it is to jump into the stagnate pool of mindless gossip in our workplace, our church, the doctor’s office, the grocery store and even our own homes and neighborhoods. From a spiritual perspective, understanding we are all one, it means that when we gossip to others about others we are ultimately doing damage to ourselves as well. Beyond the aforementioned spiritual reality is the fact that any person who will gossip with you about others will also gossip about you with others. I guess it’s an instant karma sort of thing.
Any way you cut it, gossip and the spreading of rumors is counter productive to creating a healthy relationship with life. Speaking with integrity in our daily interactions is a conscious choice we get to make every day.
I invite you to join me in using this test before we unleash words that may be less than impeccable. Before speaking to or about another person, mindfully ask yourself these questions:
1. Is it true? Do I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what I am repeating is accurate and true, or is it based on hearsay and assumptions that I or others have made without gathering all the facts from an impartial and reliable source?
2. What will I gain from repeating these words to others? Will what I am going to say be life affirming, productive and helpful to all involved? Will the world be a better place because I uttered these words? If not, why would I want to repeat them?
3. Is what I am going to say about another person something I would have the clarity, courage and commitment to say to their face, and if so, why don’t I do so?
4. Will what I am going to say be using the power of my word in the direction of truth and love?
Before we speak, or hit the forward and send button, it would do us well to pause and become witness to our thoughts before they become our word. It was a great reminder for me this week regarding the importance of being impeccable in our word. I invite you to join me in using the power of your word in an intentional and conscious manner. Not just because speaking with integrity is the right thing to do, but because the world needs and deserves the absolute highest and best that we can bring to it. When we gossip and spread rumors we are declaring our own lack of wholeness. When we speak less than impeccably about others, we are affirming to the universe that hears our every word that we feel separate and apart from the whole of life. When we are not impeccable in our word we participate in creating pain and suffering for others, and that is not why we have come to earth. When we use our word in the direction of truth and love we honor God’s presence by creating harmony and peace, and that is why we are here. What we think and say matters, so being impeccable with our word seems like a great place to start. Now that is worth repeating, so pass it on!