Our words define us

UNIVERSE WITHIN by Gwen Randall-Young

Portrait of Gwen Randall-Young
Whatever words we utter should be chosen with care for people will hear them and be influenced by them for good or ill.

– Siddhartha Gautama (Buddha)

It is through our words that relationships are formed. It is how we reveal who we are to others and how we let them know who they are to us. It is the way we communicate our intent and also how we make things happen.

In his book The Four Agreements, Don Miguel Ruiz says, “Always be impeccable with your word.” There is so much embedded in such a simple phrase. The word “impeccable” means faultless, irreproachable. Our words are our way of communicating to the outside world. They are also a reflection of who we are inside. Once words have been spoken, they are out there and cannot be erased.

Being impeccable with our word means several things. Firstly, it means our words impact others so we must be careful how we use them so as not to hurt or harm others. Any message can be conveyed to others in a way that is dignified and respectful, regardless of what they have said or done. As Barak Obama says, “We can disagree without being disagreeable.”

It also means being careful about what we say. To use our words to gossip, malign or denigrate others is far from impeccable. Our words have power and that power should be used for good purpose. What purpose can possibly be served when two or more people pick apart someone else? When this happens, words are used to negate and belittle another human being. This says more about the gossipers than it does about the object of their criticism.

It is interesting to note how so much of politics is based on undermining, negating and blocking others. Governments should be like parents – providing leadership and looking out for the best interests of their citizens. In our culture, however, government and opposition are like dysfunctional parents who continually battle one another and neglect the children. It is one thing if the intent is to battle for what you believe in. It is another to battle for the sole purpose of trying to make the other look bad.

Being impeccable with our word means being truthful. It means not using words to deceive or mislead others. Built into our culture, particularly in advertising, is the practice of swaying others with words that are slightly or overtly misleading. Media is awash in claims that products can do things that they really cannot. The phrase “buyer beware” speaks to this built-in trickery.

Finally, being impeccable with our word means being true to our word: following through and doing what we said we would do. Think how devastating it is when a divorced father says he will pick up the children on Saturday and then does not show up. Consider how destructive it is to relationships when a partner commits to quitting drinking, gambling or being unfaithful and then breaks this commitment. It is like an emotional tsunami whose waves move beyond the partner to the rest of the family, relatives and friends.

It is easy to use our words carelessly, not thinking of the impact they might have on others or on the way we are perceived. Words are not just words. They are the way in which we connect to others and make meaning in our lives. When we practise impeccability, we are honouring ourselves, others and our species.

Gwen Randall-Young is an author and psychotherapist in private practice. For articles and information about her books, Deep Powerful Change Hypnosis CDs and new “Creating Healthy Relationships” series, visit www.gwen.ca.

1 thought on “Our words define us

  1. I am living with my x husband. We have no physical relationship. He lost everything we had by gambling. We were married 30 yrs and been divorced for four but he would always be around and so we moved back in together. He tells everyone I am his wife. I really would like to find someone that I can have a full relationship with. There is a lot more to this story but it would take hours to tell. Can you tell me how to get him to leave.

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