Lately I’ve been noticing that a lot of the language I use when referencing myself can be a bit negative. It’s not that I say things to get a heartfelt affirmation from another person to hear how I’m the bee’s knees, but rather this behavior seems to be more of a speech pattern or linguistic tick than a casual diatribe. Sometimes I don’t even realize that I’m doing it until someone else calls me out on it. Often, regardless of the reaction, I feel embarrassed when it is noticeable enough for other people to mention it because when it is challenged I don’t have an answer as to why I said it other than a shrug and half-smile. Then the thoughts race: Why did you say that? Do you really think so? Where did that come from? Do I sound pathetic? Many people I know say things that put themselves down and usually it’s in the form of a humble joke. While it can be an honest opinion or habitual saying, it always catches my attention and makes me very curious about the connection (or lack thereof) between what we say and what we believe.
The idea is this: I’m going to spend some time trying to be aware enough of what I say so I can drop the adjectives out of the conversation before they leave my mouth. At first I thought about simply applying this to language revolving around myself, but then I decided to try and apply it to anyone I may feel an urge to say something about. The point is to play around with the possibility of seeing someone as they are and not attaching any sort of judgment or opinion – which is what an adjective essentially is. I’m also hoping that by catching myself whenever I want to describe someone, I will be able to give myself enough room to consider not only what it is I want to say or why I want to say it, but if I really do believe it. Am I really that dumb or am I just beating myself up over a small thing that has nothing to do with who I am? Does he really come off like an arrogant asshole or am I projecting my visceral insecurities onto his benign confidence? Are they really bad parents or am I avoiding the effort to see the entire picture in order to get on a soapbox? Is she lazy or does she simply do things in a different way than I prefer? All of these examples revolve around negative connotations because I have realized that I am much more mindless in my cynicism than I am in my praise. If anything this may make for a few awkward silences, which I always get a kick out of.
© Mayme Snow