Smokey the Bear
If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his body in check.
Do you sometimes feel that you body has a mind of its own? Do you eat when you’re not hungry; lay on the couch when there’s work to be done; throw and/or slam things when you’re angry? Do you feel out of control sometimes? I do.
James provided insight into this dilemma and the solution is all in our mouths. James states that anyone who controls what they say can exert dominion over themselves in all areas. Easier said than done, no pun intended, James compared spoken words to forest fires. I lived in
Florida and experienced
several severe wildfire seasons. The amount of destruction and the breadth of
the damage were enormous. Once ignited, they moved swiftly and gobbled up
everything in their path. It took huge amounts of manpower and equipment to extinguish
or at least control firestorms caused by a small spark. I remember when I
should have had Smokey the Bear in tow to quench the blazes my words started.
How does control of our words keep everything else in line? The secret is discipline. To think before we speak can be difficult; to determine a proper response or a lack there of takes work. Our words shape our mindsets that make us who we are. Our base of operation is built on the belief system we’ve developed. At times it’s so subtle we don’t realize what’s happened. For example, have you ever said something like this? “I always get the flu!” What appears to be a statement of fact is also a declaration of expectation. Past history proved you got sick during flu season. When you made that statement did your thoughts agree or disagree with your words? Do past bouts with the flu provide validation for your anticipated results for this year? Does it drive you crazy that while you get sick all the time others around you suffer no ill effects and get off scot-free? Exposed to the same environment, they seem immune. Perhaps they’ve a different set of expectations that work in their defense.
Have you talked yourself out of something before you tried it? You failedl to experience something new because the mental picture formed beforehand over rode your curiosity and willingness to test the unknown. Your words created that image of fear and failure. Later, were you shocked and said, “That wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be”? To your amazement, a dreaded situation turned out much better than ever anticipated. You expected the worst. If you hadn’t been forced into action you’d have missed out on an adventure because of wrong thinking brought on by your words.
Controlling our words is crucial for success in life not only for us but also for others. We prevent problems when we monitor our speech. It’s easy to “tell it like it is” and then regret the wild fire we created. Unfortunately the damage is done. We should heed Smokey the Bear’s words of warning, “Only you can prevent forest fires,” and exercise caution when we open our mouths and speak. When we watch what we say we’ll keep out of the heat and gain mastery over our lives.