“Words do not express thoughts very well. They always become a little different immediately after they are expressed, a little distorted, a little foolish.” ~ Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha …
In the busyness of life, I have noticed the “disconnect in communication with others” that Hermann is speaking of here. We depend so much upon words to express our desires and feelings, that rarely do we stop to consider just how ineffective they tend to be. Not only do the intentions of our words get misunderstood, but often times they create conflict in our lives or the lives of others, for the words we speak rarely capture the true feelings that we wish to convey, and more often than not, come across quite differently than we had intended them to.
Hermann is sharing with us some of his most treasured insight and observation on the powerlessness of using words alone to express our thoughts, and he would know, for he made a living writing words–crafting them carefully to create works like Siddhartha and Die Leiden des Jungen Werthers, one of the most influential books in German history. Here, we are gently reminded that the more we rely on our words to express our thoughts and feelings, the more we are going to realize just how limited they are and how poorly they express what is in our heart, mind, and soul, as the feelings we experience within are incredibly complex and our words often are not. In addition to this limitation, we also have to realize that the words we share with others are subject to their interpretations, which are not necessarily in line with what our thoughts and feelings are trying to convey.
Because of this, it is essential that we practice and develop our skill of using our words so that we can improve their effectiveness in properly expressing our thoughts and feelings. It is equally important that we become aware of the limitations that exist with the words we use so that we can choose words that accurately express our feelings and reflect our heart.
When speaking with others, take the time to properly fashion your responses to better express your thoughts and feelings.
Questions to consider:
How often have you been “betrayed” by your own words? How aware were you of the importance of those words before you used them?
Why do so few of us take our words more seriously, even after we have seen evidence of their limitations?
What does Hesse mean when he says that words “become a little different?”
For further thought:
“All our words are but crumbs that fall down from the feast of the mind.” ~ Khalil Gibran, Sand and Foam