How to Keep Your Word

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How to keep your word: In a word . . . impeccably.

Be impeccable about keeping your word.

The word impeccable comes from the Latin root word, pecatus which means sin. The prefix im means without, so impeccable means without sin. Impeccability can be thought of as an attribute of God. It would be unthinkable for God to sin since that would be against his own nature. Considering the idea that we are all made in God’s image, or deep inside each of us is a spark of God, to behave impeccably means to do nothing against our own nature.

“Never esteem anything as of advantage to you that will make you break your word or lose your self-respect.” – Henry Brooks Adams (1838-1918)

Communication — A Rare Priviledge

Our word is our bond to one another. It is the way we interact and communicate. It is how we share our inner reality with others. It is the bridge between our subjective, inner world of being – and the objective, outer world of other people, places and things.

Our ability to speak words is rare. Other species communicate but as far as we know, no others have developed the use of words to such a high degree.

“We pass the word around; we ponder how the case is put by different people, we read the poetry; we meditate over the literature; we play the music; we change our minds; we reach an understanding. Society evolves this way, not by shouting each other down, but by the unique capacity of unique, individual human beings to comprehend each other.” — Lewis Thomas

In the Beginning

The power and importance of the word goes back a long time. One of the most recognizable Bible verses is . . .

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1

It’s interesting to notice that “Word” is capitalized as well as “God.”

This sentence is bursting with meaning, possible meaning, potentially misunderstood meaning and mystery. Considering how many times these words have been translated, paraphrased and retranslated in all the centuries since they were first written, we can only guess at the original intent of the author.

No matter which precise meaning we attribute to the phrase immortalized in John 1:1, one thing is certain: There is something very powerful and holy about the Word (with a capital “W”). The power and importance of the word has been recognized for a long, long time.

Words Create

The power of our word is related to our power to create. We clarify and make our intentions known through words. This power of creation is another ability attributed to and shared with God. We are the only species known who decides, intends and then manifests the fruits of our imagination. Words are powerful tools used in this sacred act of deliberately creating desired outcomes.

“Words are deeds. Words are wonder-working acts. Words create things which otherwise could not exist.” – Mathurin Dondo

Most of us use this tool every day. Most do it unconsciously, unaware of the effects of their words. A few choose their words carefully, aware of their power to influence and create results.

Learning by Example

We all learn to use words by the example of our elders. We mimic them and learn their patterns, for better or worse. The problem is we learn all the bad habits just as readily as we learn the good habits of word usage. I was fortunate to learn at an early age to be aware of words. My dad and I were talking about profanity, and I have always remembered what he said:

“People who make a habit of cursing have lazy minds and their profanity demonstrates a lack of imagination.” — Wayne Kenyon (b. 1948)

Misuse of words is common. Often, we have nothing to say but talk anyway. Why? We learned by example from our elders. They learned the same way. This kind of idle chatter may be harmless enough most of the time, but does it contribute to personal development or spiritual evolution? Considering the powerful, creative aspect of words, what is being created?

“Blessed is the man who, having nothing to say, abstains from giving in words evidence of the fact.” – George Elliot (1819-1880)

Unintentional Creation by the Misuse of Words

The real danger of misuse of words comes when the idle chatter includes an opinion, observation or jab about another. This may be offered in a casual manner, with no premeditation, but can still have lasting effects. It can even be meant as a joke, a passing comment of the moment, but the effects can linger, just the same.

Do you remember hearing this childhood taunt? “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It’s cute and seems harmless enough when you’re six. With experience comes the realization it’s dead wrong . . .

“A broken bone can heal, but the wound a word opens can fester forever.” – Jassamyn West

For example, imagine yourself as a ten-year-old child visiting your grandparents. You are hanging out with your grandpa in his shop, watching him build a birdhouse. You are happily caught up in your imagination, pretending to be a dancer, and don’t notice the birdhouse pieces on the floor. You accidentally step on one and break it. Your grandfather reacts quickly, off the top of his head with, “Look what you’ve done. You are so clumsy!” Then, laughing to himself he adds, “You are so uncoordinated you must have two left feet.”

He gets over it quickly though and gets busy making another piece to replace the broken one. His attention is back on the birdhouse, so he never thinks about the incident again.

But you do!

You are young, impressionable and value what your grandpa thinks and says. He wouldn’t lie to you. Therefore, you must really be clumsy, with two left feet. You believe him when he says you are uncoordinated and you take his words to heart.

His words become a powerful affirmation in your young life and, even though he has long forgotten about it, you are still busy manifesting the idea behind his words. You don’t play “dancer” anymore. In fact, you begin tripping and falling more often.

Later in life, the idea of dancing strikes terror in your heart because, subconsciously, you are afraid you will break something or do something that meets with disapproval from someone you love. You don’t want to disappoint, you don’t want to be scolded, so you don’t dance.

Pity. You may have natural ability, a rare talent for rhythm and movement, forever shot down by a freak accident and a few poorly chosen words by someone unaware of their power.

“Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear, an honest compliment, or the smallest act of caring, all of which have the potential to turn a life around.” – Dr. Leo Buscaglia (b. 1924)

Unfortunately most of us have learned about the power of words by living with the results of their misuse.

“He who does not know the force of words cannot know men.” – Confucius (551-479 B.C.)

Now imagine what can happen when you offer poorly chosen words such as these to someone with an impressionable mind — someone who looks up to you — someone who knows you would never lie to them . . .
“You are stupid.”
“You are bad at sports.”
“You are a terrible cook.”
“You can’t sing.”
“You will never amount to anything.”

Unintentional Affirmations

These simple phrases, often offered casually, are powerful creators because they are believed. When you stumbled over grandpa’s birdhouse, the real damage was done by his verbal outburst because you believed him. You internalized his words and made them real in your life. They became an affirmation in your life, an integral part of your belief system, something you believed to be true about yourself.

“Once a word has been allowed to escape, it cannot be recalled.” – Horace (65-8 BC)

The words and the ideas behind them became affirmations to you and therefore powerful creators. They became self-fulfilling prophesies — something for you to grow into because you believe them to be true . . . even though you may have long ago forgotten when or why you started believing in their truth.

“A word is dead when it is said, some say.
I say it just begins to live that day.”
- Emily Dickinson (1830-86)

Words as a Massively Destructive Power

To take this principle to the extreme, consider Hitler. He understood the power of words and chose to use them consciously to create a deliberate outcome. Atrocities were committed because of the creative power of his words. He offered his opinions with great emotion. People took them to heart, and as a result, perpetuated unthinkable acts upon one another.

“Words – so innocent and powerless as they are, as standing in a dictionary, how potent for good and evil they become, in the hands of one who knows how to combine them!” – Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

Hitler used words creatively, but as black magic. He poisoned his life, his family, his country and finally the whole world with anger and hate, expressed and sent into the world with his words. He understood the power of his words and used their creative potential to pass on negative emotions like a contagious disease. The epidemic spread to millions of people worldwide.

“Although words exist for the most part for the transmission of ideas, there are some which produce such violent disturbance in our feelings that the role they play in transmission of ideas is lost in the background.” – Albert Einstein (1879-1955)

Casting Spells with Words

Comments that can affect someone for a lifetime can be thought of as a spell. We cast spells upon one another with our words. That’s how powerful they are. We do this sometimes without our awareness.

It may not be malicious since few of us recognize just how powerful our words can be, but anytime we participate in gossip, we are creating deliberately. We are choosing a destructive outcome rather than a positive outcome.

“How often could things be remedied by a word? How often is it left unspoken?” – Norman Douglas (1945)

“One kind word can warm three winter months.” – Japanese Proverb

When we talk about someone, spreading rumors, opinions, conjectures, suppositions or lies, we lower ourselves to the area of black magic. Our nasty words have the potential of radiating outward, spreading pain. It grows from person to person as others jump on the bandwagon, indulging in negativity. A slam here and a jab there may seem harmless, but such misuse of words has the potential to grow exponentially until it could be a dangerous force in someone’s life.

Have you ever played the game “telephone”? You begin by sitting in a circle and whispering something in the ear of the person next to you. They repeat it to the next person and it continues from person to person, all the way around the circle. By the time it gets back to you, the whispered phrase is barely recognizable. It has taken on a life of its own.

Gossip — Halitosis of the Mind

Gossip has the same potential, but the participants catch the derisive nature of the slam, and add to the negative emotion, altering the details to suit their fancy and make a better story.

“Conversation is an exercise of the mind; gossip is merely an exercise of the tongue” – Author Unknown

“Gossip is the art of saying nothing in a way that leaves practically nothing unsaid.” – Walter Winchell (1897 – 1972)

For example, as you pick up your child from school, you happen to notice one of the other single dads, Bob, give an appreciative glance at one of the pretty teachers. You never liked Bob very much because he always seemed to have better luck with the ladies, so you decide to mention it. In casual conversation with one of your buddies, you mention that Bob has quite an eye for the ladies at school. Your buddy passes on the message that Bob likes to flirt with the teachers. The next person says he heard Bob flirts with the students. Then, it becomes that Bob made a pass at a ninth-grader. Before you know it, poor innocent Bob has been made out to be a repeat sex offender. This entire scenario has nothing to do with Bob and everything to do with the contagious, escalating nature of gossip.

“Consider how many times you have gossiped about the person you love the most to gain the support of others for your point of view. How many times have you hooked other people’s attention, and spread poison about your loved one in order to make your poinion right? Your opinion is nothing but your own point of view. It’s not necessarily true. Your opinion comes from your beliefs, your own ego and your own dream. We create all this poison and spread it to others just so we can feel right about our own point of view.” — Don Miguel Ruiz, from the book, The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom (A Toltec Wisdom Book)

Words are powerful. They can create. They can destroy. Your words are continually creating effects in your life and in the lives of those around you. By becoming aware of their creative power, you can see their results all around you.

“Live in such a way that you would not be ashamed to sell your parrot to the town gossip.” – Will Rogers (1879-1935)

Be Safe from Word-Spells

How can we train ourselves to be impervious to such blatant misuse of the creative power of words?

Awareness. The first step is simply to realize how effective words are. Next, vow to use them deliberately and intelligently . . . with impeccability. That means don’t use them in any way that is against your own nature. Don’t shoot yourself in the foot by your own loose-lipped style of speaking.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting battles too,
Cruel wars within themselves, just like it is with you.
Be kind, because you’ll never know just how much good you’ll do,
A heartfelt word or two can soothe a hidden wound.


The way we live our life is like a pebble dropped, into a quiet pond,
It carries on just like a circle growing.
The ripples that we make may touch another shore,
You may never know for sure,
How much you’ve helped someone without you knowing.”
- from the song, “Be Kind” by Tupelo Kenyon

As you develop the habit of regarding yourself with more deliberate intent, you will begin to relate to others with your words in a more conscious manner. You will easily recognize whenever someone else offers words loosely, without the benefit of deliberate awareness. In that moment, you can choose to let the words pass by you without any residual effect.

When you hear someone say, “You are stupid” or “You’ll never get ahead,” you will realize these statements have nothing to do with you. They express something about the person who spoke the words and how that person relates to the world. You can catch a glimpse of how they relate their inner subjective state of consciousness to the world at large.

It’s nothing personal, it’s just their knee-jerk reaction to a situation that may have the potential to reveal something about them. Instead of recognizing their own opportunity for personal development, they lash out at you, unaware.

Fortunately, I had an opportunity to learn this lesson early. As a teenager, I was a roadie for a rock band and a friend of the drummer. He was learning to play guitar at the time, so occasionally, we would jam. One day, as we were both playing our guitars together, he stopped and said, “You have the worst rhythm of anyone I have ever met.”

I believed him. After all, he was the drummer of a successful rock band. He offered his expert opinion . . . and he should know.

So, I took a close look at my rhythm and found room for improvement. Because of his comment, I kept practicing until my rhythm was consistently rock-solid. I appreciate the opportunity to improve but suspect there was more to it — the incident wasn’t just about my rhythm. I had a few years head-start at playing guitar and my drummer friend may have felt momentarily frustrated and self-conscious about his abilities. Rather than deal with his own limitations, it may have been easier for him to point out mine.

After I had practiced awhile and improved my rhythm, I realized his comment was no longer serving me, so I let it go. I deliberately chose NOT to take it to heart as an absolute fact, true for all time. I did not adopt it as a part of my belief system, further perpetuating it into my life.

Thankfully, I had already gained enough awareness to recognize the danger of turning his half-joking jab into a life-time affirmation. If I had been younger, or less self-aware, it’s entirely possible that I could still be regarding myself as someone with the worst rhythm my drummer friend had ever met. Instead, I have made my living as a professional singer-songwriter musician for over thirty-five years.

My wife, Janey, had a similar experience. When she was young, someone told her she couldn’t sing. (If you’ve heard any of our music, you can appreciate how absurd that is!) She doesn’t even remember who told her that nonsense — it could have been a teacher, a playmate, or even a perfect stranger. What matters is the fact that Janey believed them.

She spent many years with the erroneous belief that she couldn’t sing. It took someone else offering another opinion to break the spell. Our friend, Bill Mann, an accomplished singer/songwriter, said, “You know, I think you can sing.” Janey said, “No, not me — I’m the one who can’t sing.” Bill insisted, “No, that’s not right — you really can sing. You can sing very well.” Thankfully, Janey took this new, improved affirmation to heart and started thinking of herself as a singer – someone who could sing. (Janey has also made her living as a professional singer and entertainer for over thirty-five years.)

Someone Else’s Opinion is Not Your Life’s Blueprint

As we get older, we begin to realize that comments by others are not absolute truth, carved in stone. It’s just their opinion — nothing more. It could be right — it could be wrong — it could have elements of both right and wrong. Their opinion has very little to do with you and everything to do with them. It is their unique viewpoint that is based on their belief system, their attitude, and their mood of the moment. Their opinions are not worthy of your trying to live up to them (or down to them) for the rest of your life. As we mature, we begin to realize that what matters most is what we think about ourselves.

Self Talk

When we use impeccability in our manner of self-talk, we never say anything to ourselves that goes against our own nature. Our internal dialog is going on and on during most of the moments of our lives. Consider how important it is to be telling ourselves positive, empowering messages. The examples above illustrate how much influence a comment from someone else can have. That’s just one comment! Imagine the power of our own words, repeated to ourselves over and over, throughout our lifetime.

Don’t sabotage yourself with negative self-talk. Words are powerful creators, whether spoken by someone else or whispered to yourself in the privacy of your own mind.

When Others Do Not Honor Their Word

Just because most people you meet seem to be unaware of the creative power of their words doesn’t mean that you are destined to live your life in the same state of unconsciousness. With your attention to detail, it becomes clear how so many people continually spin a web of unhappiness, frustration and desperation through the misuse of their words.

“Be true to your work, your word, and your friend.” – Henry David Thoreau (1817-62)

You can avoid the confusion and self-inflicted misery simply by remaining aware of the creative power of your words and using them deliberately and consciously. Whenever you encounter someone who abuses the power of his word, avoid them.

When someone demonstrates by his actions that his word means nothing to him, obviously his words should mean nothing to you either. When someone makes a habit of breaking promises, saying one thing and doing another, breaking his word — this is a major warning to you that their life is likely in chaos. Steer clear. Their unawareness of the importance of their word wreaks havoc in all areas of their life, contributing to their manifestation of their own hell on earth.

“Taking the first footstep with a good thought, the second with a good word, and the third with a good deed, I entered paradise.” — Zoroaster

Allowing the Creative Potential of Your Word to Live Up to Its Potential

Just imagine what it can be like once you’ve made the decision to always use words deliberately, consciously and with love.

“One word frees us of all the weight and pain of life: that word is love.” – Sophocles (496?-406 A.D.)

Love spreads too, exponentially from person to person. Imagine “the wave” at a large sporting event continuing all the way around the stadium, affecting thousands of people in a positive way. You can be the person who starts it.

“But words are things, and a small drop of ink,
Falling like dew upon a thought, produces
That which makes thousands, perhaps millions, think.”
- George Noel Gordon, Lord Byron (1788-1824)

“Wherever you go
Whatever you do
Whatever you say
Say, say, say
Say it with love.”
- from the song, “Say It With Love” by the Moody Blues

“Let these three things run through my heart,
Before I speak my mind:
Is it true . . .
Is it necessary . . .
Is it kind?”
- adapted from the song by Hindu Kush Mountain Boys Plus One which was adapted from Paul Twitchell (1908?-1971)

Your Word Matters

With this awareness, you would never dream of breaking your word. You don’t give your word lightly. When you give your word, you keep it.

Your word is your link to the creative power of the universe. It is not something to abuse. The power and importance of your word is something to be ever mindful of . . . something to honor and be grateful for.

Your word is your bond, your character, your reputation and your integrity.

Your word is your opportunity to practice being impeccable.

While reading, did you choose to hear the relaxing instrumental music linked at the beginning of this article? To learn more about it, click here.

Listen FREE to the songs below . . . chosen to enhance the ideas in this article.

Related Songs
Be Kind
Your example and the kindness shown to others can have a rippling affect that goes on and on.

Trash Our Treasures
People seem to have a history of awarding seemingly insignificant details with places of prominence in our lives, while ignoring or even destroying the most important aspects.

Ten Purdy Word Song
The style and mood of the song matches the flow of the words themselves, painting a colorful word picture that is easy on the ears.

Songs by Tupelo

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We share the journey, even though each journey is unique. It’s encouraging to know others are also interested in the mysteries of life. It’s inspiring to see others dedicated to living life to the fullest, in spite of the fact that humanity has been making some of the same mistakes for centuries.

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This is the end of the article entitled How to Keep Your Word published by Tupelo Kenyon on June 22, 2007 at 6:00 am | In Awareness, Communication, Manifestation, Relationships - Copyright 2007 - All rights reserved worldwide.

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