A talking stick is sometimes utilized in community settings where different people will get a chance to speak. The understanding is that only the person holding the stick will speak; others will take the important opportunity to truly hear the speaker and respond at the appropriate time.
This is an old practice that has come to us from many, different directions. It is a way of keeping order amongst humans, who have a tendency to become disordered rather easily. Especially when someone says something they don’t want to hear.
One of the reasons I enjoy communicating through social media is that it operates like a talking stick. You cannot talk until I have had my say. There is a lot of potential for healing and clarity in social media, but it depends upon intention and use, does it not? A simple tool in the wrong hands will become a great weapon.
As humans, we have many aspects to our personalities. One could say we have different personalities, in general, although we are not all diagnosed with personality disorders. The kinds of decisions a person makes really depends upon what’s going on inside, (emotionally, spiritually, psychology, and sensory-wise) that person at any given moment. What kind of day is that person having? What kinds of emotions are swirling around inside that person? Does that person feel supported or abandoned? What are that person’s needs and desires?
We are never quite the same person twice, if we are growing and developing appropriately.
I say that different aspects of who we are holds the talking stick at various times. Sometimes, the chronically ill version of a person holds the talking stick. At other times, a different version of that same person is holding the talking stick. Maybe the version who is ridiculously exuberant due to a new job.
We all carry around these different aspects to us and we don’t observe moments of silence regularly. These different aspects voice concerns, feelings, desires. And the different aspects are not always logical or capable of being reasoned with.
Such is the case with pain. When we are communicating from our pain body, we are definitely not going to easily integrate spiritual lessons or general wisdom. We will reflexively lash out; reacting versus responding.
This is a problem that I don’t believe we take seriously enough in our culture. We talk when we’re feeling most upset. The more upset we are, the louder we tend to talk, the more widespread we want our message to be.
This is largely due to the collective and continual silencing of people being harmed, but it has also become a cultural and societal problem. We have people saying they want to improve our society and culture, but their pain bodies are holding their talking sticks. Can constantly talking from a place of pain solve problems?
Just for today, practice putting your talking stick down when you are full of pain. Fear, rage, sadness, and shame are all symptoms of pain. There are more. Choose to go within and ask yourself, before you speak, “Which version of myself is thinking this?” Get to know all the aspects of your personality.
Once you know, practice putting the talking stick down when pain is dominating. Unless you are in a kind of therapy session, your pain may only complicate communication. It may muddy the waters and attract more pain (usually in the form of other people allowing their similar pains to hold their talking sticks).
Aren’t we tired of adding to the pyre of pain in our communities and world?
Put the stick down and back away. You are safe.