“If your lips would keep from slips,
Five things observe with care;
To whom you speak, of whom you speak
And how, and when, and where.” – William Edward Norris
The game Chinese Whispers teaches us an important lesson. For anyone who has not had the pleasure of playing this game: a group of people stands in a line or circle, the first person whispers a message into the second’s ear and so on to the last person who then delivers the message aloud to the group. 99.999% of the time the message that comes back is totally different to the original one, a perfect example of the waste of time gossip is and to illustrate the purpose of seeking truth in everything. I used to be a fan of gossip, I’ll hold my hands up, I’m not proud of it, I never gave it much thought I don’t think any of us really do we just get caught up in it. What we can do is choose whether we are going to pass on this information and to whom and to what end or stop the fake news in its tracks. My personal view is if we are not bothered enough to seek the truth then really what we heard need go no further and we must question why we are filling our time and minds with such useless information when we could be getting on with more important tasks like minding our own business and fixing our lives. That said I’ve realised I play Chinese whispers with myself and that can be the most damaging gossip we can ever hear.
We hear what we want to hear and this is normally dictated by what we are feeling, suppressing, or fear. Many moons ago a helpful person told me that it was so much fun to hang out with me because “you are so much fun when you’ve had a few.” …I heard, “the only time you are worth being around is when you are in party mode.” Not wanting to be out of favour I obliged and partied hard even when I didn’t really want to and even long after I lost touch with her. I don’t blame her one bit for my partying habits, she couldn’t have known what was going on in my insecure mind but that stayed with me for years even after the parties were over because in my mind I just was not interesting enough. Taking care of ourselves includes auditing and processing messages we receive, thoughtfully. But be careful not to overthink, just listen to what you are saying to yourself and turn on your truth-o-meter. As we hear what we WANT, changing what we want can also have an immediate effect on what we hear. With my truth-o-meter in check, I came to know that the truth about fun is that it is safe, non-toxic, and free and sure enough out clubbing one night a more helpful person said to me, “I’m so jealous, to dance and have fun like that I need at least three drinks!” Transcendence achieved and still being perfected, it was a long process with relapses but I see those for what they were, lessons pushing me towards what truth told me I not only wanted but needed as well.
While we can’t take responsibility for the way messages we send out are received by others we have a duty of care to humanity to watch what we say about and to others. We talk about people we know little to nothing about to make us feel better about ourselves, to detract from our own shambolic lives and maybe to feel like we are part of a group. Often the more negative and inaccurate the messages we pass on about and to others the more mess we are refusing to deal with. You fix nothing, least of all yourself, by being so concerned about another person’s life, while you’re so busy talking about them they are probably busy getting things done achieving goals and living life in the meantime your dirty laundry bin runneth over. As a parent and former child, I have experienced the power of words in their ability to empower, deflate, encourage, influence, and confuse. Kids can bounce back and move on from many things but there comes a time when words stick. If they repeatedly hear ugly words they will have ugly thoughts about themselves and the world and may carry this through to adulthood. I endeavour to build my kids up with the appropriate truth and words so that they have strong foundations, it’s a tricky game this thing called life but if we simply learn our lessons and enact the good we’re one step closer to a life less misunderstood.
Speak life and truth to all you encounter, beginning with you.