What’s in our hearts comes out of our mouths. Practicing the First Rule of Inner Peace has changed my words in six ways. I love the effect these six changes have on others around me – and on how I feel about myself. While you might read these and say, “I can do them too!”, my experience is that we need to change our heart for these to be real. Otherwise, we are in danger of faking it, which means we’ll stumble when the pressure is on. Here they are:
- I constantly ask for permission. I ask, “Is this a good time to talk?” “Are you open to a suggestion?” “Would you be willing to help me on this?” People are busy and pre-occupied. Asking permission lets them make a decision to drop their other priorities for a few minutes.
- I give people permission to reject what I want. Often in the same breath, I am giving the other person an out. “If that doesn’t work for you, that is no problem. I understand this isn’t for everyone.” or “I know how busy you are.” In parenting, I often say to my son, “No rush. You can do this now or you can do it later tonight if you would rather.” It helps overcome his instinctive annoyance at having his activity interrupted. Then when I do need to interrupt, he knows the situation actually is urgent.
- I assume I’m wrong and they’re right. “I’m sorry I communicated that so badly! What I meant to say was….” This is one of the hardest ones to do well. I have often thought I was crystal clear and they were simply not listening! But I’ve learned that even if that is true, I could have done a better job of getting their attention and expressing things more clearly.
- I am patiently persistent. Sometimes, a prospective client cancels and postpones meetings multiple times. I never lose patience with that now. I remember what a successful sales professional once said to me about people who want to do things later rather than now. “I have to eat next year too.”
- I have a reverse sense of humour. When the weather heats up after a long spell of -20° freezing cold weather, I say, “Oh, don’t you hate that. Just when I was getting used to the cold, it’s already over!” My wife laughs and that’s good enough for me!
- I blame people for causing a positive result. Someone tells me about a success they have. Perhaps he attributes some of his success to his spouse for example. I say, “Ah, so you’re saying your big promotion is all her fault!” This is similar to the fifth way but it takes the edge out of unspoken judgments (ie. an inflated ego). Another example is to name the judgment itself. For example, a couple blocks the aisle at the grocery store. In a clear voice, I say to my wife with a smile on my face, “Well, I suppose if these people would stop blocking the aisle, we wouldn’t have to stand here and pretend we like each other!” When they see the humour and the positive way we are accepting their behaviour, they laugh and we have a nice moment together.
If our hearts have loving thoughts, loving words naturally follow. Jesus said, “But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts–murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander.” (Matthew 15:18-19).
When we practice first getting neutral, we are removing the biased views that we have about what results we want and how we are supposed to make that happen. Suddenly, we see clearly what to say and do with confidence in the face of hardships, even if others don’t immediately receive it that way. We are at peace in our hearts.
Wishing you a peace-filled day in the Lord,