The way one speaks often reveals much more about the speaker than we might assume through passive listening. When we listen with whole perception, we can hear passion, excitement, love, awe, integrity, presence, inspiration, hope, personal truth, gratitude and well-being. We can also hear sadness, anger, insecurity, manipulation, distraction, confusion, judgment, jealousy, fear and illness.
Words are power, if only we can remain aware enough to choose our words and sentence structures wisely. This means spending time to understand the root of our intentions. Why do we say what we say? Does it pour forth from our heart centers, moving out into the spaces in between us to build connection, to open opportunities for healing, to paint our world with vivid life and possibility? Or do we use our words to distract each other? Like a mask, we can use our words to build up protective personas, walls that keep us from having to see or share our truths, or to distract us from the pain carried within our bodies and minds.
In this day and age, presence has become increasingly rare. Groups gather and technology surrounds us, whether the TV in front of us flashes scripted dramas or advertisements, or we flip through our phone from one image to article to video to another, even though important life is happening all around us. Our conversations begin to mirror this, an insanity of quick snippets, unrelated facts and ideas, little personal reflection to be added. What personal reflection we hear and speak is often the heading or subject matter of something we read, someone else’s opinion we once heard.
We are the products of our environment, an environment we all somewhat readily subscribe to, because it’s all we’ve ever known. Just as philosophies and belief systems of the past (and present) have given us an instant relief from having to think too deeply for ourselves (because if the book/”expert” says it, it must be so!), the human condition has proven time and again that we are eager to accept programming, as long as it creates some sort of illusion of security and comfort. Our minds are brilliant machines of potential, and what we study, how we spend our time and the people we surround ourselves with all direct how we speak to ourselves, how we speak to others and what we find important to discuss.
The more we become aware that we are the product of our environments, we can choose with greater care the kind of programming we may want to invite into our lives today and tomorrow. The more we change the habitual patterns of our thoughts and words, paired with care to our quality of presence, the more we can align with a more evolved vision of what kind of person we want to show up as.
Building on last week’s post Navigating Inner Landscapes, our personal ecosystems contain such an amazing diversity of life. Much of what has been planted in the landscapes that make us who we are were seeded by the paradigm that raised us. In slowing down and turning inward, we become aware of that terrain much more intimately. We can determine who planted what where, if it is still serving us, and decide if we would like to keep it or leave it behind (my metaphors build on each other- if you haven’t already, check out Conscious Composting).
In working with nature, we learn diversity is necessary to the health of an ecosystem. Plants, insects, animals and the elements all work together to create an immense complexity of health and well-being. Yet, there are some potential issues humans in particular can introduce to an ecosystem to off-set its health.
I have spent hundreds of hours cutting, digging up and pulling invasive species: English Ivy, Tansy Ragwort, Scotch Broom, and Himalayan Blackberry are among them. We see how an invasive species takes over, stealing resources vital to the well-being of others within the system, until certain species can no longer compete within the system. We might equate an invasive species to the an infiltration of a toxic idea. Maybe we believe that others are against us, we are jealous of someone else or we have a desire to achieve even if it means hurting others along the way. Maybe we hold beliefs that the poor are bad, lazy and to be feared, or that cheap means good because it saves us money and time. These are just some examples. Sometimes an invasive thought doesn’t need to look like an invader at all, as we’ve developed these ideas over time to survive, passed down from those who came before us, and those who surround us now.
I’m not here to tell you what thoughts specifically you need to uproot, or cut back, because only you can identify what is working for you, what is not and where you are right now in your journey (there is no rush! Be gentle with yourself!). As we cultivate an awareness of how our belief systems and thoughts impact one another, we can begin to determine where we might be a bit hypocritical. At one point or another, we all exist within our own paradoxes. Hypocrisy is merely pointing to where we’d like to grow, but a belief is still hindering our ability to live within the new idea. As with the above examples, someone who holds the belief that poor people are bad/lazy/to be feared might also hold the belief that we should love everyone. The person who believes cheap is good might also have a deep appreciation and love for people and the environment, but is unable to see how the way they spend their resources might negatively impact that which they love. We are surrounded by contradictory beliefs and all of us have them. It is up to us to recognize where they exist and what needs to be removed for our healthiest and most authentic beliefs to flourish.
What invasive species are in your personal ecosystem (or maybe your literal front yard!)? What can be uprooted today to open up the space for a more authentic you to grow tomorrow? You have everything within you that you need to create your own thriving, healthy internal ecosystems.