I don’t know who said, "A picture is worth a thousand words." So this image is not so much a picture, but it really spoke to my spirit this morning. It reminded me of a few other lessons I try to incorporate in my life. One being HALT (hungry, angry, lonely, or tired). If I am any of these, I need to halt before speaking or doing anything. When I am hungry, physically not emotionally, I need to eat something. When I am angry, I need to calm down. When I am lonely, I need to find a way to socialize with someone. When I am tired, I need to take a nap. I need to do all of these things BEFORE I say or do anything, which I may later regret.
Then there is the Sufi teaching, which reminds me that BEFORE I speak, I must answer three questions: is it truthful; is it necessary; and is it kind. If they are not, then I do not need to speak those thoughts into being. I need to remember to think BEFORE speaking or doing.
So this quote was what I needed. If I take the time to think and pray BEFORE I say or do something, I will have less to regret AFTERwards. I have learned that when I really listen to what someone is saying, that I am not thinking about what I want to say while they are talking. If I am actively listening, then I am not thinking; I am just listening. Then I can take a moment to think about what, if anything, I need to say. One of the things I have come to realize is that when I am actively listening to someone, sometimes that is all they need. One of the most sacred gifts I can give anyone is the gift of holy listening. It is always a blessing to feel like someone not only heard you talking, but also listened to what you were saying, and also listened to what you were not saying. BEFORE reminds me to quiet my brain and listen, then take a moment to think about what if anything I need to say.
BEFORE also reminds me to not react. It reminds me to HALT and focus on my breathing until I have brought myself back to a state of deep, relaxed, and meditational breathing. Some things are just not worth a response. While the Sufi teaching was about words, I also try to apply it to my actions. I also find myself remembering the second agreement, to not take things personally and the first agreement to be impeccable with my thoughts, words, and deeds. Until I can respond with the intent of loving energy, I am best to think BEFORE responding.
It was the line about judging which really spoke to my spirit. It is so easy to judge others or ourselves. However, if we take the time to think about why we are feeling judgmental about others or ourselves then it does change our viewpoint. There is a person in my life who I have found myself not liking for a reason I could not identify. It was so easy for me to judge them based on what little I knew about them. As I was praying about it, I keep hearing these words coming to me. “Judge not, lest ye be judged.” “Be impeccable with your thoughts, words, and deeds.” “Why are you writing them this way in your story?” Then I realized that I knew virtually nothing about them and I was making assumptions about them based on the little information or experience I had with them. When I put the negative energy out there, even in thought, it not only blocked me getting to know this person, but it blocked them getting to know me. When I radiate love to all, then I provide the opportunities for all perceptions to be transformed.
Finally, this reminded me that I have to try. As my Bubby would always say, “She who fails to fail, fails to succeed.” If I do not try, I may not succeed, but if I do not try at all, then I definitely cannot succeed. As Henry Ford once said, “Whether you think you can or can’t, you’re right.” BEFORE I make any decision about what I can or cannot do, I have to give myself permission to try. I may not be completely successful the first time I try something, however, it gives me the freedom and the path to travel down as I practice mastering a new skill or quality.
It is as Nathaniel Branden once said, "The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance." When I am aware of what I am thinking, feeling, or perceiving, then I can begin to change the way I live and interact with the world. I can accept things as they are at that very moment in time and not try to make them more or less then they are.