Words are the cognitive contraptions we use to work our way through a world of uncertainty. Words can free us: as symbols they are essential to distance us from experience enough to compare and contrast and reveal patterns in a complex universe. Seeing those patterns with ideas framed in our mind also enables us to communicate those insights to others. In these ways words are a wonderful gateway to understanding and sharing.
Yet words can also entrap us. If we do not recognize the limitations of their boundaries, if we see them as real, their top-down influences on our lives can be devastating. We can come to believe that “intelligence” is something we are either born with, or not. We can think that “we” are good and “they” bad. We can even feel that “I” is something so real and important that “you” don’t matter. Letting go of such top-down influences is the art of mindful awareness. The receptivity of presence allows us to unleash the shackles that automatically enslave us.
Daniel J. Siegel. The Mindful Brain