The Wise Speech Tree
Last week we noted that we’re setting the intention to listen + speak mindfully in 2019, and we offered some thoughts on Mindful Listening. What can we use to guide us toward Mindful Speaking? Victor Frankl is often quoted as saying, “Between stimulus and response there is a space”. In Mindful Speaking we can insert a pause between the urge to speak and what we say, and use that space to ask ourselves four questions. We think of this as the Wise Speech Decision Tree.
Question 1: Is what I want to say true/honest?
If you know that what you are saying is true/honest (from a trusted source, not rumor or innuendo, for example), then proceed to Question 2. If upon examination you can’t be certain that it’s true/honest, don’t speak. Take a moment to reflect, asking yourself some questions. Perhaps wondering why did I want to say that? What does the untruth of the message tell me about my sources? What shifts for me now that I recognize this as not true or honest? This applies to everything from not wanting to pass along rumors, to not hemming ourselves in with limiting beliefs (“I can’t do this…. I’m too clumsy.”), to not using exaggeration to describe others (“You never put the cap on the toothpaste” - never? really?).
Question 2: Does it need to be said?
If you truly believe that it does need to be said, then proceed to Question 3. If you’re not sure, don’t speak. Instead, surf the urge to speak. Rest with the urge and notice how it passes. When the mind circles back to the urge to speak, smile and breathe. Celebrate how you’re building your “response-ability”, freeing yourself from reaction. Take comfort in knowing that you’re building your ability to surf all urges when you do this.
Question 3: Does it need to be said now?
If you are certain that this is the right time to say what you want to say, then proceed to Question 4. If, upon reflection, you determine this may not be the best time, don’t speak. Pause. Waiting for the right moment to speak is an act of compassion - a gift, to the listener as well as to yourself. Practicing not acting immediately on impulses can reap big benefits in many areas of life. There can also be a sense of relaxing, softening and opening that comes from a compassionate pause.
Question 4: Can I say it with kindness?
If you believe that what you want to say can be said with kindness, then speak freely from the heart. If you’re not sure, don’t speak. Take some time to resource yourself. If it's your emotional state that would make the delivery unkind, breathe deeply and offer yourself compassion. Perhaps checking in with your own emotional state, see if you can reframe the message in terms of your feelings and needs, and a specific request of the listener that would help them to meet your needs?
Meditation and mindfulness help us build our ability to recognize when a pause is needed before a response, and to use that pause wisely to help us make the best choices possible.
There is just one session this coming week:
Wednesday 12PM January 2nd New Canaan Library, New Canaan
Wishing you all the very happiest of New Years!
May all beings everywhere without exception feel empowered to speak their truth with kindness,
Your friends at CMP