What you think and how you talk to yourself may not be audible to others, but does influence your deeds and words affecting not only you but others.“Don’t forget to turn off the lights, Honey”, read my friend’s note to herself at the door. The aha for me was that I could talk to myself the same way I talk to her, and it has been a rewarding process. The Sufi, Buddhist and the Yogic traditions offer us the 4 Gates of Speech to help us before we speak to ourselves and to others. I visualize these gates as sieves for effective communication that separate what is kind, true, necessary and beneficial from what is not.
- Is it true?
- Is it necessary?
- Is it kind?
- Is it the right time and place?
Do you talk to yourself the way you talk to your best friend? After all, you are part of your kindness, caring equation. When you make a mistake- do you speak kindly to yourself or do you call yourself names? Do you put yourself down? What is the tone of your inner voice to yourself? Is it kind, understanding and compassionate, or scolding and judging? Remember feelings may truly be there, but they may not be the truth of the matter. Do you tell yourself the truth about yourself? You may experience embarrassment or shame, but that does not mean you are bad or shameful. Strong feelings can be difficult to feel and can cause you to say things that you regret. So pausing and checking in with the 4 Gates of Speech can help you to not hurt yourself or others.
Mahatma Gandhi the great peace activist said, “speak only if it improves upon the silence”. Pausing before going through the 4 Gates of Speech, increases your awareness of your inner dialog which is a strong step in reducing suffering in you and in others. Like everything, it takes practice, so if you goof up saying something you regret you can use the 4 Gates to correct the message and without people pleasing. Like feathers out of the pillow, you cannot take the words back, but you can make your next words reflect having passed through the 4 gates. The gates are useful for recognizing not only content and time, but to whom you need to apologize.
These 4 Gates of Speech are protections that enhance your esteem. Becoming thoughtful about what you think and say and how you think and say it, you engage truth, kindness and sensitivity which decreases gossip and makes for friendlier personal and professional worlds for you.
I now write notes to myself with kindness. The alarm that reminds me when it is time to get ready for bed says, “Time to wind down, Dear.”
Healthy self talk is empowering and kind.
In the Vitality in Progress: Healing and Preventing Burnout for Nurses participants choose 3 keystone habits to practice. The topics of communication, boundaries, compassion and kindness are personalized through reflection, mentoring conversations and sharing circles. Participants explore their self talk and are encouraged to notice any negative self talk or behaviors.
In the meantime, join us on Wednesdays 6:30-7:00 pm EST