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Words Are Like Toothpaste

The other day I read a beautiful story, told by a lady that is providing outdoor adventure camps for teens. Every evening they have this culture of sitting together at the campfire and talking about the day and their personal experience.

One evening a kid said, that her tent mate said something hurtful, a loose comment that caused pain. The lady then walked to her tent and brought a tube of toothpaste with her. She squeezed the tube and out came a little bit of toothpaste. Then she demonstrated that it was nearly impossible to get the toothpaste back into the tube.

She repeated the procedure, squeezed again and put some more toothpaste out. The more she took out the less chance she had to undo it.

The lady did this to demonstrate how important it is that we choose our words carefully. Once they are out, they are out and can not be taken back.

I like this story because it really mirrors some of my personal learning.
Words are like flowers, they can be beautiful, full of rich colours and fresh scent.
Or they can be rotten, moldy and stink.

The old saying goes: “Make sure your words are soft and sweet – in case you have to eat them yourself.” I guess that is exactly what the Hindu culture calls karma.

Here are three rules for toothpaste-free speech:

1.) Bite your tongue.
Sometimes people approach us aggressively and we are tempted to react.
Don’t react. WAIT.
Don’t try to be defensive or quick-witted. Let some time pass until the water stops boiling before you say a word.
This is so damn hard. For all of us, including me. But it’s wise.

2.) Better is Better.
In every moment we can choose good or even better words.
Use the better version as your standard.
Better means more well mannered, more caring, more heartfelt, more truthful.

3.) Silence is golden.
In times of social media, everybody is chatting everywhere.
The world does not need our latest comment on or what I like to call “word incontinence”. Surprisingly, it also does not need gossiping or backstabbing that today seems to be widely accepted and legitimates social platforms.
Keep things private, ethical and wellmeaning. That’s truly what being social means.

Thank you, as always from the bottom of my heart for reading these words,
have a beautiful 2023,
with so much love,



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