• Rhodri Jones

The Power and Limitation of Words

Updated: Feb 15, 2021

I wonder what those thoughts in your head would mean if there was no language to describe them. Wouldn't that just mean sensations in your head? Would you then still be so tied to them? Would it still be so enticing to live in your head so much? What about those feelings and emotions too? There would be no label for them if language didn't exist, and we would sense into our felt experience in our bodies, rather than try and explain them away so quickly in the head.

Sometimes it can serve us not to look at the content of our thoughts too much, but to simply look at their pattern. Those thoughts come and go, and just pop into your head. There is simply no need to chase every one or label them as 'good' or 'bad' or anything else. They are what they are before we start assigning meaning to them. A stream of consciousness, never permanent, always changing.

What about the space between those thoughts too?

Are you able to sense into that or do you just fill your life with distractions to drown out all thought?

Of course we need words to be able to function in society. We all need names don't we to identify ourselves. No amount of words though can truly explain who you are beneath your beliefs and the stories you have about yourself, or can truly explain what any of this is. This whole world is a great unexplainable mystery, of which we are all trying to make sense of the best we can. How comfortable are you in this uncertainty, or are you busy trying to control everything?

Our minds seek certainty - that's why the comfort zone can be a place where so many of us live. I certainly did for a while when I began limiting what was possible for myself in the world following the disappointments of injuries and retirement - after I'd chased my dream of becoming a professional footballer. I began living a life of "not feeling enough" and feeling "not worthy" - despite still climbing the ladder in the television industry as a director. Those beliefs, are just words, but they have a ripple effect through life and your experience of it. Sometimes the harsh inner voice still comes up nowadays, but I can laugh off it nowadays, and can welcome it without getting too attached to it.

I found solace in in words through writing poetry for a while, which can cut through the conceptual mind. The same as jotting things down raw and unfiltered in a journal can do. The same applies to Zen Koans , that are used to scramble our minds and open them up a little. Here is one:

'Out of nowhere, the mind comes forth'

Language is learnt and creates our map of the worlds. Many people don't say what they truly mean or want anyway. We may just say what we think society wants us to hear, or what will make us fit into the crowd. It might be the voice of a parental figure that rings loudest in your mind, or the conditioning that can both serve and limit you. We are driven in a primal, biological way in this regard, so don't make a problem out of it. Don't censor or filter yourself though to the point that you drown out your own language and words. That can be a lonely existence - regardless of all the successes and trappings you have in your life. Be your own authority, rather than give that away to others who you think may have worked it all out.

If I hear someone say "they should be doing this" or "need to be doing that" then I would question if they really want to do that thing in the first place. Needs must sometimes, I get that; but what's that like in the long run?

Sense how that is for you.

How does "should be" feel energetically compared to "I want to".

How does "I am unlimited" compare to "I'm not enough".

If your words described reality as it is wouldn't your reality be the same as everyone else's? You create your reality everyday through the words you use.

Aren't we all limitless?

Some people have built up more layers than others in life - yet there is no difference between you, me, or anyone else. No better, no worse, not needing fixing. Just human, with all it's messiness, amongst all the pretty stuff.

Freedom is often about stripping away, an act of simplifying, rather than automatically adding more -so that you can see clearly. Often it takes someone else to shine a light on your blind spots. Then you can go on and play the game of life freely. A life which ends in the same place for us all.

Here are another two words for you: 'Memento Mori' - which describe the ancient practice of reflection on mortality.

There is nothing morbid in doing this.

For me it snaps me back to engaging with what truly matters on my To Do List

How about a To Be List instead?

What words would you like to be written or spoken in your eulogy?

Are you living/being in accordance with that now?

Here are the words of Stoic philosopher and playwright, Seneca:

Let us prepare our minds as if we’d come to the very end of life. Let us postpone nothing. Let us balance life’s books each day…The one who puts the finishing touches on their life each day is never short of time.

This article will resonate with some of you and not with others. You don't control that, it just happens. That is before your mind then tries to convince yourself one way or the other by placing a story on it

Live your own words, find your own answers.

It's ok not to know too.

It may take time to do.

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