One of the most personally helpful ideas I’ve come across as I’ve been listening to Jordan Peterson’s lectures and reading his work that you shouldn’t say anything that makes you feel weak. He explains what he means in the short video below:
We all know that feeling of saying something that makes us “feel weak” because we really know that we are lying to ourselves. We know what we are saying does not align with how we truly see the situation, but we say the words we are expected to say for the sake of keeping the peace, being accepted by our peers, or out of fear of facing the truth of what we really think.
We pretend to approve of a decision made in our workplace for fear of the consequences of saying that we disapprove.
We tell people we are praying for them, when really we are not.
We tell people how much we appreciate/love/like them, not because we genuinely do, but because we want them to like us more.
We discuss difficult issues and speak using cliches, slogans, or buzzwords that we cannot articulate what they mean (e.g. social justice, diversity, equity, inclusion, patriotism, nonviolence, just war). We simply use these words because our peers expect us to, if we are to stay morally acceptable, in their eyes.
We pretend to like something (sports, certain food, types of music) to win the approval of others.
We pretend to hold certain convictions about our faith in order not to upset certain people who would think us suspect if they knew what we really thought.
I could come up with others. The point is, we all know when we say something that we do not really believe. We feel that tug in our chest when we say it, and we find ourselves later thinking about what we should have said, or what we would have liked to say.
On the other side, we also tend to know when we say something that we truly believe. Things feel like they fit into place. They feel solid. Even if we find out we are wrong, and change our minds, the fact that we spoke what we formerly believed to be true, lends itself to cultivating a life of authenticity. It frees us up, I think, to take ourselves less seriously and be more open minded to truth.
Since I came across this idea a few months ago, I’ve tried to implement it, myself. I’ve tried to note when I say something that I am simply expected to say by others, and if I don’t truly believe or buy into it, I won’t say it. I’ve made an effort to replace what is expected of me with what I truly think.
As someone who is pretty easy-going and non-confrontational, by nature, this can be kind of a scary experiment. It’s so much easier to just say what’s expected of me and go along to get along. It risks putting you as an outsider.
I have found that not saying things that make me feel weak, though scary at first, is actually a much better way to live. It boosts one’s confidence, makes one more relaxed, and makes conversation much more interesting. I would recommend everyone try it.
If, as Jesus said in Matthew 12:36, that every person will have to give an account of “every empty word” they have spoken, it only makes sense that we should try our best to only say the things we think are true. We won’t do it perfectly, of course, and we won’t always say things that are true. But, if we pursue only saying what we believe is true, we will be further along on the path to discovering further truth.