“Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates: At the first gate, ask yourself, “Is it true?” At the second gate ask, “Is it necessary?” At the third gate ask, “Is it kind?” – Rumi
I first saw some version of this quote years ago. Over the years, I’ve seen it numerous times, but it wasn’t until this past year that I decided to use these questions in my life.
“Is it true?” We know when something rings true or not. Sometimes I don’t like the truth, but I know it. When I made this questioning a regular habit, I noticed how one simple question can affect your life. The parts of my life where I wasn’t living truthfully became very clear. I noticed a deeper power and presence to my words. I could feel an energy I was connecting to by aligning with truth.
“Is it necessary?” The first thing I noticed was how I used some words, simply out of habit. An example was when people would ask me to present, or teach a class, I’d say, “Why me?” Rather than be happy and grateful, I’d wonder why they chose me. I realized this phrase was unnecessary. I changed it to, “Yes me!” I also noticed how often I’d speak to fill a silence. This meant I sometimes spoke out of boredom, or because I wanted to show I was right, and other times it was simply to hear my own voice. I realized how many words I used unnecessarily, how they distracted me from goals, and how they mindlessly reinforced past patterns. These words wasted time.
“Is it kind?” It is true what you put out into the world, you get back. Are the words you using inspiring and uplifting? This falls under the category of kind. I’m not just talking about the words you speak to others, but equally important are the words you speak to yourself. Using kind words to myself has been a challenge, but this question, “Is it kind?” helps focus me on the power of kindness.
When we take a moment to frame our words with these three questions, we become more intentional with our precious time. Next time you open your mouth to say something: pause, take a moment, and ask yourself: “is it true, is it necessary, is it kind?”