This is such a powerful and relevant statement! One that can change a person’s life and outlook drastically.
The implication is simple, yet profound.
What one speaks, makes the most lasting impressions on others. While positive actions create a positive impression, negative words can create a stronger negative impact. People are prone to negative thoughts. It’s natural and comes easily. But having a negative thought doesn’t mean it must be expressed. Even if a negative thought must be expressed, it can be done in a way to have a positive impact.
If one intends to create a positive impact on those around, the best step that can be taken is to regulate one’s words. Words are obviously a reflection of the mind. However, it is easier to control words rather than the mind. Speech is a more conscious action than thought. For most people, thoughts flow without one’s control. It takes immense effort and practice to regulate thoughts. Hence, from what I have practiced, I can definitely state that controlling one’s speech is a first step to controlling one’s mind.
What the title means is, before speaking, one must examine the situation in more depth. A person may have acted in a particular way. But his or her action is an effect of whatever he or she has gone through. Without knowing the background, making a judgement and thereby a reaction is best avoided.
As a common day example, let’s say a person’s colleague or spouse shouts at him or her for something trivial. The general reaction is to shout back. But this is where the necessity for opening the mind comes up. Before reacting, if the person can spend some time to check what caused the colleague or spouse to shout, a lot of damage and un-pleasantries can be avoided. If the person can just train his or her mind to ask back, ‘Why are you shouting over such a small thing?’ with an open mind to understand the other’s problem, most of the time, the issue would start resolving.
In most situations, it is not required to react back immediately. A person’s ego drives him or her to react spontaneously to a negative remark. One is offended and therefore reacts back in defence. This defence offends the other person and the chain starts. It is in a person’s own control to break the chain.
It also applies to sparking off the situation to start with. If one sees something disturbing, if a little thought is put into what is really causing the disturbance, a negative remark can be avoided in the first place. For example, if someone sees his or her desk at office or room at home not clean and stuff displaced, it is likely that he or she will pounce on the janitor or his or her spouse for messing up things. For all he or she knows, maybe the person was just unwell and couldn’t clean up. If the thought process is tuned to understand the background behind the situation, it’s easy to convert the rising negative thought to a positive influence.
Here are a few suggestions on what an “open mind” could think before speaking:
· Why is the person saying or doing this?
· What is the impact of this situation or person in the larger picture of things?
· What is the background – is there something behind the scene?
· What could hurt the person more or worsen the situation?
· What could soothe the person or improve the situation?
· What action can help brighten up the person or situation?
· Is an immediate reaction required or can the reaction be deferred?
Regulating ones words comes with practice. It is undoubtedly difficult at first and slows down a person. But over time, it becomes a powerful tool to win people.