Some of the deepest, wisest people I know have silenced themselves as a result of the hate and negativity that seems to spread like wildfire on the Internet. People with important wisdom to share are less likely to do it because the open nature of social media seems to offer an invitation to argue, politicize, and spread vitriol. Some forms of wisdom seem too pure, too precious, to share in a forum that so often drags everything to its lowest common denominator. It can feel like casting pearls before swine.
Here is what I have learned about this kind of predicament. When people silence themselves out of a fear of how they will be received, they create suffering. They suffer as a result of being bottled up, and the world suffers as a result of not hearing their voices. So how can people begin to feel comfortable sharing the wisdom of their experience with a world that does not seem ready to accept it with love?
Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, points us to an answer. He tells us that the most powerful agreement you can make with yourself is to “be impeccable with your word.” He explains that the word “impeccability” means “without sin,” and that a sin is “anything you do which goes against yourself.” Thus, “being impeccable is not going against yourself. When you are impeccable, you take responsibility for your actions, but you do not judge or blame yourself.” This goes beyond the concept of “truthful.” I can feel that I write or say something truthful, yet still be caught up in hate and anger. If I write or speak in that way, I will attract more hate and anger, and this “goes against myself.” It hurts me just as much as it hurts others, even though it feels true. The notion of impeccability means that what I say or write can never hurt me—it can only heal, bless, or inspire. When I speak from my own experience, and when I take time to make sure that I am speaking with pure intentions—not with the intention to hurt, embarrass, or marginalize others, I am able to be impeccable with my word.
When I write or say something impeccably, it is the ultimate protection. I can trust that it will resonate for those who are ready to hear it, and that anything that comes back to me as a result of my saying it will be helpful. If I write an article and receive an encouraging comment, I feel supported. If I write an article and receive a hateful comment, I do not take it personally, and there is a lesson in that comment for whoever cares to seek it.
There was an elective course offered in my graduate school program called “To Be a Politician,” and this name turned some people away from signing up for this class. I was curious about the inner-workings of political campaigns, so sat in on the first class to see if it was a course I would like to take. The professor, Steve Jarding, explained his rationale for creating and teaching the course. He said (and I am paraphrasing), “Good people don’t enter politics because they think it is only for selfish, arrogant, and phony people. As long as good people think that, they will never enter politics, and politics will remain mostly full of selfish, arrogant, and phony people.” This explanation changed how I thought about politics, and it applies to any field or forum in which good people—those with pure intentions and an ability to speak and act with love—filter themselves out.
If you have been silencing your own voice on matters that are important to you, take a moment and reflect. How can you add your voice to an important conversation in way that feel true to who you are? How can you be impeccable with your word? What can the world learn from what you have to share about your experience? What can you learn from offering your voice to the world?
We can’t wait to hear from you.