Meaning, Mind

What Are You Saying?

“Speech has power. Words do not fade. What starts out as a sound, ends in a deed.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel, 1962, On Improving Catholic-Jewish Relations

A ‘Freudian Slip’ is a term used for when we say something in error, but it is believed to reveal a thought or feeling from our subconscious.

We mistakenly reveal our true internal feelings. Maybe this theory is true some of the time and maybe sometimes we just simply misspeak. It does however put an important emphasis on the significance of speech, and how it’s linked to our internal processes.

As with almost everything else, we find this easier to do with other people.

If you’re having a conversation with someone, you’re far more likely to listen to, and analysis, what they say. We pick up on not only what’s said, but how it’s said, where there is emphasis put, where the tone changes etc. Engaging with others at this level is necessary if we want to understand them, including and beyond what they are willing to say out loud. Likewise, we can gather crucial information by doing the same with ourselves.

We reveal more in what we say, and how we say it, than we probably care to imagine.

When we’re in a comfortable conversation that is flowing freely, a lot can be revealed. Have you ever heard yourself say something and thought ‘where did that come from’? Those kinds of moments are gold. It’s like stumbling upon a clue. It may not always hit us in the face though, it can be more subtle. For example, we can be having a casual chat with a friend and another person comes up in conversation. We slowly begin to speak badly of that person. We indulge in discussing what makes them look bad and we’re quick to criticize and judge. Meanwhile, we’re telling ourselves that we hold no ill-feelings towards them, that we’re ‘over’ any animosity. By truly listening to and analysing our own words, we can gain entry to our honest thoughts and feelings. Only then can we address and change them.

“If thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought.”

George Orwell, 1946, Politics and the English Language

By listening to what we say we can gain insight, but we can also promote real change.

It is true that what we say becomes reality-what we indulge in is what flourishes. If we change how we speak, we can change how we feel. Imagine the next time we have a casual conversation with a friend. Being aware of how we have spoken in the past, we choose this time to not speak ill of the other person. We refuse to indulge in negative attachments or resentful condemnations. If we do this repeatedly, we will find that in time, our ill-feelings genuinely start to fade. We gather insight, and promote change through what we choose to say.

“If we understood the power of our thoughts, we would guard them more closely. If we understood the awesome power of our words, we would prefer silence to almost anything negative. In our thoughts and words, we create our own weaknesses and our own strengths.”

Betty Jean Eadie, 1992, Embraced by the Light
Enoch Wood Perry, 1872, Talking It Over, Met Museum
Enoch Wood Perry, 1872, Talking It Over, Met Museum
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