Have you ever thought about words? What exactly is a word? A word is a group of symbols/letters that everyone within a given culture agrees will represent a thing. Take TREE, the word tree is not a tree, its a symbol for that thing that grows tall and offers shade in the backyard, the park or the wilderness. People who speak English have all agreed that the letters t-r-e-e will mean that tall shady thing usually found outside, but sometimes found indoors in pots. People who speak other languages each have a group of letters or symbols that mean tree.
Words have great power. A word can be used to heal and a word can be used to harm. But sometimes a word may be intended for one meaning yet somehow gets interpreted to mean something different than the original intention. Why is that? Why do words sometimes get taken in a way that is not intended?
When we are born, we don't know anything. We rely on our parents, teachers, social media, friends, and many different people to teach us the meanings of our cultures agreed upon words. As we grow all of our experiences come from the people who have the greatest influence over what we are taught. Then we reach our teen years and start questioning and rebelling against everything. Sometimes we start questioning what we are taught a little younger than our teens and some people never question at all. But, even with all the questioning and rebelling, we still have a foundation of agreed upon meanings that allow us to communicate. This is where perception comes in. The way we as individuals interpret the meaning of the word we hear or read controls the power of that word.
There is a story found in many different cultures. This is the version of that story I was given on my journey of learning words:
There is an Indian story told by a grandmother to her
granddaughter that goes like this:
Within each of us there live two wolves. One is mean and hateful, always complaining and unhappy. Nothing can make it happy. The other wolf is content and at peace with life and finds the good in all, rising above the bumps in life. The granddaughter asks the grandmother "which one lives grandmother?" the grandmother replies, "the one you feed".
The one we feed is the wolf that reads and interprets the words we hear and read. Does this mean we must always be some happy-go-lucky person always humming and singing happy thoughts? Nooooooo! It just means that if we are aware of how each of us interpret/perceive words, we can help each other communicate.
Don Miguel Ruiz has written a wonderful book called The Four Agreements, and a follow up book, The Fifth Agreement. I highly recommend his work and teachings. There are so many teachers and so many ideas of how to communicate. Seek them out, question everything, observe everything and make up your own mind. Find your voice.