Language is powerful. The Buddha said so.
Slowing down for Recess and noticing verbal reactions related to time have made me more sensitive to this power.
As an ongoing experiment, I’ve listed five words that I’d like to excuse from my vocabulary… find new patterns for. Wish me luck (oye, there’s another word I’m not fond of… maybe the start of list #2).
Word: Sorry – as in I’m sorry.
Why: For starters, think of what that words means – sorry. Yes it’s “feeling distress or sympathy,” but it also means “in a poor or pitiful state.” I certainly don’t want to put “I am” in front of that!!
My mom says I’m sorry for everything. Even for things she doesn’t have any role in. Rather than it coming out as compassionate feeling for my frustration (or whatever) it comes across as I’m sorry – it’s my fault, which does two things: it puts responsibility on her for something that is not her responsibility; and it puts the focus on her rather than my feeling.
On the other end of the spectrum, we have my stepdaughter (another non-favorite word, so usually I use “bonus daughter” but honestly, she’s not feeling like much of a bonus right now). Here we have the typical teen-style, flat and empty, sorry. As though just saying the word absolves her from any and all responsibility (there’s that word again).
Try Instead: If you are “feeling distress or sympathy” why not say that? Wow, honey…I feel for you. Or relate to the actual emotion, Geez, that must hurt. Or, if you are apologizing, I apologize or Will you forgive me are so much more clear.
Word: Interesting – as in that’s interesting.
Why: Someone told me that interesting is a “lazy” word (she said it because I’d just used the word!). We use it to pretend that we’re paying attention or when we don’t know what else to say. We use it to mean a thousand things, but really, it doesn’t mean much on its own.
Try Instead: Say what you mean – What a great idea… I don’t totally agree with you, but I want to give that some thought… I’ve never looked at it that way… I wasn’t really paying attention, can you repeat that?
Word: Retarded – as in that’s retarded.
Why: I don’t really need to lay this out, right?
Try Instead: Oh, I don’t know… silly? goofy? oh fiddlesticks? Not a big fan of stupid or lame, even though I say both. I have a hard time finding an adequate replacement without being all English butler, That’s quite to my disliking.
Word: Should – as in you should…
Why: We all know. And in case this is one of your favorite peeves, this is a great post about it.
Try Instead: I’d like to… What if you… Have you considered… I want to… I need to… Or just letting it go.
Word: Universal Consciousness – as in tap into the universal consciousness
Why: Whyyyyy??? <shaking fists at sky> I’m a yoga teacher for god’s sake. I should (see above) love shit like this.
But I don’t. It bugs me.
I’m not saying there isn’t universal consciousness, I just don’t want to be told to “tap into it.”
Maybe it’s tag phrases that I don’t like. Maybe it’s the fact that I’ve heard these expressions in class and sometimes they seem rehearsed and empty.
So please don’t ask me to Make manifest my desires. Or to Look up to be enlightened. Or Tap into universal consciousness.
Try Instead: Something more real. Something tangible. Notice your breath… Notice what you’re feeling right now… Your state of mind, your energy, your emotions… Maybe even letting me explore, Do you sense something beyond yourself, something bigger than this room, this moment? Ya, something like that.
What words bug you? Do you have other “try instead” suggestions? Does swearing in another language help? Do you make up words? What are you working on?