Caroline Myss. Years ago, I was introduced to this remarkable woman thorough her book, Sacred Contracts, one of many she has penned. Last night's talk was entitled The Power of Your Words. Though I wasn't sure what to expect, I followed my impulse to be there. I wanted to hear her thoughts about the words we choose and the consequences of these linguistic choices.
The speaker opened the evening with the comment that a benefit of aging is the rising awareness of the limited time we have left. Then she expressed her intention to offer the audience "something you can use for the rest of your life." Words, she reminded us, are the doors to entire universes.
She then proceeded to show and tell us how within our own subjective worlds, we all make rules for other people. You're not allowed to use that word with me. Don't take that tone with me. That is too much volume. You must not be so loud when you talk to me. Unfortunately, everyone else has their own rules, and nobody knows anyone else's. We laughed with uneasy recognition.
Boundary, she said, that word used to belong to geography. Now it's used in the context of emotions. But what does it really mean? And could it be one of the stubborn words we can't let go of? A medical intuitive, Myss informed us that what keeps us from healing our emotions and our bodies is embedded in language: the thoughts, stories, beliefs and ideas we refuse to release.
The word pride, she commented casually, "should be about lions." That word can "make or break your life." Consider the word fear, now so commonly used as an excuse for complaint and inaction. Time was, "before the therapeutic era, when people wouldn't pull out fear so easily." Where once we focused on courage and fortitude, now we discuss our fear and weakness. "We use our fear as if it allows us to deserve comfort."
Deserve is another toxic word. The objective of life is not to deserve sympathy, to have such a sad story that we will "never get over it," or "never forgive" those who wrong us. The goal of life is not to feel entitled to this or that, and be miffed when we don't get it. Entitled? (What are we -- titled aristocrats, who are owed debts of allegiance by our underlings?) Our lives would change for the better overnight, she assured us, if we made the choice to stop using words like never and always and lie and deserve. Inability to resort to those old claims would force us to think in new ways.
Our sacred purpose is to manage our own energy. One way we can do that is by choosing our words wisely, and staying open to grace. Banished along with other soul-related words, grace is a word we rarely hear today. Yet it is not medicine or even energy that heals us, but grace. Only grace stops us saying something we'll regret for life; grace alone brings the moment of holy illumination that the world is conscious and alive and that we are deeply connected to it.
Meanwhile, we are in a difficult moment on earth. If we're to make it into the coming "galactic era," we must each take responsibility, contribute our individual effort and energy to the shared goal of survival through the coming positive transformation. "It's a privilege to be alive now," but we must get over the deadly illusions that "everything out there is something we have to kill," and prayer is a magic formula "that saves us from our own stupidity."
Even though "this is the most narcissistic planet in the galaxy," Myss told us, we have enormous power to change for the better. This can be done by casting our attention on the words we are using, and making saner and healthier choices about how we talk to ourselves and others.
Everything we say, think or do either empowers or saps our life force. Stubbornly maintaining the belief that we must win at all costs, control others or earn their approval brings the inevitable consequences of resentment, angst, feelings of powerlessness. We pay with our life force. The psychic weight of such negative emotions robs us of health and ages us before our time.
We need to be humbler, and less afraid of humiliation. We need to focus inward, develop a strong sense of inner authority. A person without the need for external approval cannot be hooked into the destructive "pride game." Needing the approval of others is "a weakness, a flaw." What other people say about us, or "do to" us is never personal. Blame and shame are destructive emotions that keep us stuck.
We constantly tell ourselves stories. Since "they're all made up" anyway, it's time to choose words that help us experience the world in a more enlightened way. When bad things happen, it is futile to regret, argue, blame, agonize, backtrack. We all experience good and bad times, and loss is not personal. "Until you see this," Myss assured us, "God will send it to your door." Yet the laws of nature also mean that "God has committed himself to bringing us spring after winter." That is how the universe works.
Using words like entitled and deserve, justice and fairness sets us up to take things personally, and perpetuates suffering. Feelings of entitlement, says Myss, lead to rage at the world, and this in turn brings physical ills, especially involving the heart, stomach, and lower back. To permanently heal from such pains, we must be willing to give up the deep-rooted ideas that anchor the negative emotions in place. Entitled people resent others, are not generous. Belief in entitlement is "causing the world to go on fire, and it must end."
We must become aware of our negative thought loops, change our language habits and make room for the power of grace in our hearts. Grace is "a silent force and presence that helps you save yourself from yourself."
Separation is an illusion. We are part of a single system with nature. We need to choose to see life as a web of interconnection, because we are all one, and "in this critical time, it is up to all of us to generate light."
Tomorrow Caroline Myss speaks in Victoria, and Thursday she'll be in Toronto. Her message is well worth hearing.