How is your “house” decorated?

Houses in the cloudsOne of my favorite quotes comes from the Sufi poet Hafiz:

The words you speak become the house you live in.

Think about that for a moment.

How often do you judge yourself, call yourself names, berate yourself – all in ways you’d never inflict on anyone else?

This morning, my husband made the wise and true point that we have the option of choosing how we react in any situation and how we want to feel.

No more than 90 seconds later, he was furious with himself for having misplaced his car key.

As he’d just pointed out, we have choices. But as he experienced almost immediately, we don’t always make the best choice. (Don’t you love how the universe offers opportunities to test and live up to our insights?)

There are many reasons why this happens. In my experience, the most common one is not that we hold ourselves to impossibly high standards (though most of us do!). I think the real reason is that we’ve been chastised for our mistakes so often, especially by people who are important to us – starting with our parents – that we tend to jump into chastise mode ourselves in order to defend against other people’s criticism. See, we think, If I get angry first about how I screwed up, then I won’t be hurt by their displeasure.


The words you speak become the house you live in.

What we say to ourselves – whether out loud or in the privacy of our thoughts – becomes the “house” we live in: our internal living space, our emotional and psychological experience, the state of mind we carry with us.

It also, of course, spills over onto the people around us: as another wise soul commented, “When the leader sneezes, everyone catches a cold.” (Jerry Colonna of, on his Reboot podcast.)

What virus are you spreading?

Or – more poetically – how is your house decorated?