The Words We Choose…
I’ve long believed that the true value in refraining from certain colorful expressions is not so much about condemning these words but rather more about the verbal laziness they demonstrate on the part of the user, as we noted in this 60 second clip. However, our word choices go much deeper than this, as the words we choose determine the lives we live. In many ways, we are writing the narrative of our lives via the words we use, one sentence at a time. The question we must ask ourselves is whether we like the story we’re living. If not, the path to change begins with what we say…
So, what narrative are our words weaving? I’ve noticed a few recurring themes in my daily discourse that could use a bit of refinement:
- Busy: It’s become a badge of honor I’ve worn (and shared) proudly for decades. “How’s it going Brad?” “You know – busy, busy, busy!” However, recently I’ve begun realizing that word really means I’ve overscheduled – I’ve neglected to allow time in my life for the things that matter most. As long as I’m “busy,” I’m off the hook to have deeper conversations, build adequate time for reflection, or really listen (beyond hearing the end of their sentence so I can move on with my “busy-ness”). As a result, I’ve begun treating “busy” as a red flag that things are mis-aligned in my life and in need of a tune-up. If you hear it come out of my mouth, the welcomed response is “Oh Coop – I’m sorry. That’s too bad!” (I’ll get the hint 😊)
- “Got to” vs. “Get to”: The difference is a single letter – but the result can be profound. Yes – there are times we have simply “got to” get something done. But if we notice ourselves using the first option in reference to elements like fitness, volunteer or career pursuits, it might be time for some self-assessment about whether either a change in latitude (our choices) or attitude (about our choices) is in order.
- Just: I’ve noticed this one in sentences where I’m unnecessarily minimizing something of value. “I’m just going to ____________” undermines the value of what follows. Either I’m purposely moving forward toward the pursuit/plan or I’m not. Throwing in the word “just” reduces the value of the next phrase. If that’s my intention, if that’s what I truly mean, then perhaps the whole plan needs to change!
How about you? Have you identified certain words in your own life that are crafting a narrative different from the one you aspire to live? The human body boasts 600 distinct muscles, and the most potent one per square inch is the masseter (jaw) muscle. Perhaps today is our chance to employ this muscle differently, to refrain from uttering destructive words and unveil a fresh, more desirable story in the process.