Speak only if it improves upon the silence

In these polarizing, divisive times we are living in it can be hard to disconnect from the frantic, anxious energy that is so pervasive. Everywhere we turn there is a debate, argument or eruption of discord and negative energy. It is easy to get pulled into defending our views, positions and beliefs. We often feel attacked and misunderstood, then seek to set the record straight by telling our side of the story. In other words, the “right” way to view things – if we are honest, this telling of our position more times than not includes a lot of upset, anger and thinly veiled judgement on our part.

There is nothing inherently wrong with sharing our viewpoint, but doing it in this way rarely ends up resulting in us feeling better. If our goal is to eradicate angry, fearful energy and create more peace in the world, then this approach just doesn’t fit the bill. We can’t get to peace and harmony by arguing and making other people wrong. So, what are we to do with all the anxiety, outrage and anger we feel when we witness the atrocities of this world? We make our one and only goal the commitment to not add to the collective toxic soup of hatred, blame and finger pointing. We do this by keeping a keen eye on our reactivity, bringing a higher level of awareness to how we respond and react in every moment.

We need to be awake to our knee-jerk responses and our tendency to speak, post, or tweet as a means to make ourselves momentarily feel better but not ultimately serve the goals that we all so desperately want to see manifest in this world. This means that we all must be willing to trade what feels good in that moment for what we ultimately want. This is about impulse control, and it has become increasingly difficult in this instantaneous social media world we live in to mitigate this issue. But it can be achieved if we each begin to take responsibility for the energetic pollution we are adding to the mix.

We can begin to ask ourselves if our dialog, comments or social media post is adding anything positive to the situation or simply putting fuel on the fire. If we are honest, oftentimes we want to get something off our chest and in doing so add to the tumultuous chaos of the collective. The Buddhist concepts of right speech and right action are an appropriate corollary to this idea. When we take the time to center ourselves before reacting and speaking, it gives us the opportunity to take an internal inquiry and ask – What is my intention? I have personally decided to make Mahatma Gandhi’s quote the basis for such decisions: “Speak only if it improves upon the silence”. Explore this idea for yourself and see if you too arrive at the same conclusion.