Body of Light Healing Arts Blog
…clearing the path to joy, growth, health, fulfillment and love.

To speak or not to speak…

by Rebecca Gifford

Consider the power of silence. Is it more powerful than words? Depends on when, where, who and why, right? How do you know when is the time for silence and when is the time for words or action? Sometimes a response is warranted and personally, strategically or spiritually effective, but often it is not. I’ve found it is critical to distinguish the difference, even in everyday situations, even in a split second.

The other day I exchanged some fluffy, whimsical bath rugs – alas too thick to fit under the door that opens in front of the sink in our tiny master bath – for thinner boring rugs. I brought them back to the store in their original bag, which the nice man who processed the exchange promptly set aside as he worked. We chatted about the holidays, joked about the busy retail season, even discovered we are both Midwesterners by birth and teased the native Californians for their lack of cold tolerance – a very pleasant, relaxed exchange amongst so much stress and holiday hubbub. Then, as I was ready to leave, he pulled out a brand new plastic shopping bag for the new rugs.

“Oh, no, that’s okay. Just use the old bag,” I said.

“It’s all right, honey. It has a hole in it,” he said. I know it did not.

 As I opened my mouth again to explain I’d really prefer the old bag, visions of plastics plant emissions and shopping bag-infested landfills dancing through my head, the nice gentleman interrupted saying, “You know, people come in here all the time and say, ‘It’s okay to use the old bag. Save a tree!’ Well, it’s a plastic bag… What tree do you think they’re saving?”

My mouth still open – partially a leftover from my attempts to continue the protest and partially astounded by what I just heard – I had a moment to decide. Speak or don’t speak? Continue the protest or let this one go? With only a moment, my intuition and higher self are always my guide. Wasn’t always so. For years, in a similar situation and even many much more personal or significant, my brain, my pride and my need to be right or speak my truth at all costs nearly always won out.

Since then I’ve learned speaking my truth is important, but intention, timing and energy are just as critical. They are the difference between being heard and not being heard.

Intuitively I knew that in this particular situation with this particular man, to continue the protest would have only irritated him and likely left “retail hell” residue in his energy; at this moment he was not open to hearing what the exchange may be able to teach him and I know I did not miss my chance to create the next great environmental activist by speaking up. The greater good was served by preserving the pleasantness of the energy exchange this nice man and I had shared by smiling, thanking him for the expedient and satisfying business transaction and continuing on my way. He smiled back and wished me a very happy holiday. God bless us everyone.

Words are effective and can change the world when expressed with kindness, good intentions and love. But what words and when? And when is it best to keep your mouth shut? In relationships, in business, in everyday life, we’re constantly faced with this conundrum. Additionally, for those of us on a spiritual path who have the background, skill and desire to use words to affect change, this is a tough question…one I wrestle with all the time. So far, my higher self and guides have served me well, but it’s a continuous learning process. One you may be familiar with yourself.

What I have learned, however, is that if you have good intentions behind your expressions and know yourself and your energy well enough, you will recognize when you wish to say something to serve the greatest good of all concerned – which may be two people or two million – or whether your ego, pride, insecurity, competitive spirit, reactionary nature, need to be heard at all costs or desire to “fix” someone or something is speaking louder than your higher self.

As Buddha once said, “Words have the power to both destroy and heal. When words are both true and kind, they can change the world.” And sometimes silence and listening are more effective than anything.

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