Choosing our words…

I curse. Lots. I don’t even realize I am doing it sometimes. Well, most times. I don’t take the Lords name in vain nor do I say damn or hell or other words considered taboo by my god fearing card carrying Lutheran parents. I am however quite colourful in other ways. You know what I am talking about. That being said, I am sure you all wonder what I am talking about. It is obvious I don’t really practice what I preach. Well there is more to this than profanity. Its about delivery. Context. Meaning. Intent. And basically so much more than that.

My husband was a man of few words. I sometimes teased him that he must have been told he was allotted a limited amount of words in life and he was a afraid of running out. If that was the case I would have run out by age 4. There was something inside him that prevented him from arguing his point. He seldom felt the need to convince others. He was content in what he believed or felt and would often look at both sides. Throughout our marriage he became more and more interested in long discussions about religion, politics, family, the world. We learned to discuss. Not argue. Some areas were off limits. In the long run though we were able to bring so much to each other since we truly saw the world from different vantage points. Just so you know, Rene’ had a potty mouth as well. He tried harder to contain it though.

Rene’ often said, “It is all in the delivery.” So true. He was more able to convince others in his slow, soft spoken manner. I am excitable. Loud. Nuts. Less likely to be convincing in an argument. Now in an area where the audience is like minded, I would be the one who could get them on board. Hype them up. He would put them to sleep. Bore them. It is truly about knowing your audience. When it comes to public speaking I am very comfortable. I took a public speaking class in University and it was the easiest class I have ever taken. This just means I am comfortable. It doesn’t mean I am good at organizing the material or the content. I am more off the cuff which can be dangerous for someone without a filter. Rene’ hated speaking in front of others. Yet he was very good at it. He was charming and witty and looked confident. The key was preparation. He never went in blind. Together we were the perfect speaker.

When it comes to everyday conversation I often find myself wondering why? As in “Why did he or she just say that?” I have a niece who has found her niche in life after years of searching. The transformation I have seen in her over the past few years is amazing. Her face literally beams when I see her. Her confidence, her demeanour, her speech. She has been transformed inside and out all because of one decision she made. Her path has changed and she now makes choices based on this new life she has created. It has been such an honour to watch this beautiful girl transform. One day her name came up in a conversation I had with her Grandmother. I was confused when my mother in law said she was worried about my niece. Then I realized that her comment was just habit. The relationship these two people share is limited to family gatherings and social events. They don’t really know each other that well. As a teen my niece was unsure of her path in life and it was natural for her Grandmother to worry . Teens and old ladies don’t view life in the same manner. Over time though my mother in law didn’t really see the everyday transformation. So all she knew about my niece was from the distant past. Sometimes we say things just to be a part of the conversation even if what we say doesn’t fit.

Some people are doom and gloom. That is just how they talk. All I can say is run away. They will bring you down so fast. We are all guilty of trying to sway someone to our side. It is only natural. In a disagreement often both parties will talk about the argument with friends. Especially common friends. We need to know they are on our side. This is left over from caveman days. Fitting in. Childish perhaps but common. Perhaps we aren’t really that confident that we did the right thing and we need assurance. All well and good I guess. The problems develop when this is how a person lives their life. Needing people on their side or else. Classic narcissism. I once called out a person on their behaviour in a certain circumstance. She argued and argued. She wanted me to accept that her behaviour was completely innocent and appropriate. Now it was a small thing and truly didn’t matter to me. It did however matter to someone I cared about. I really had no reason to stick my nose in other than the fact that my friend was hurt and angry. Being a softie she chose to let it go. I am not good at letting go. I saw it as a sign of bullying. Yes, adults bully esch other. It isn’t just a school yard thing. At the end of it all I refused to condone what I saw as bad behaviour. The girl in question quit speaking to me after talking to everyone we knew about how I had maligned her. I still see the individual at times and she keeps her distance. After a perfunctory greeting where we pretend all is well. For my part, I am glad the relationship is over. It was truly one sided and I have a lot more free time now. The point is I didn’t take her side and she not only dropped me she set out to punish me. Looking back I realized that all of our conversations were about doom and gloom and stroking her ego. Narcissitic supply. Exhausting. I exhaust people in a different way. Non stop chatter. I am notorious for droning on about nothing. I am excitable and I am blunt. Some people love that about me and others do not.

It takes time and effort to chose our words wisely. Something we don’t strive to do in our fast paced everyday life. This is usually reserved for more serious or somber events. Or ticklish situations. Wedding vows are written and rewritten until perfect. Or as perfect as we can get. Sympathy cards. Most people try to say the perfect thing which usually isn’t. In fact, the written word is when we try the hardest to say things just right. When we are on the outs with people and we want them to know exactly how we feel, we write them a letter or a note. Yet after 50 drafts we find the words just don’t cut it. Transforming thoughts and feelings into words is so very hard. If we set an intention or agenda, the words just don’t flow. When I was young my hubby was my filter. I had him read anything I wrote, especially if I was angry. He could delete all of the four letter words and still manage to get my point across. Yet one of his favourite descriptions for me was “F.U. Strong letter to follow.” That was how I reacted sometimes. Or lets face it, most of the time. There was always a passion in me. I have always felt strongly about the world. And all that goes on. These days I am softening somewhat. One day you wake up and realize not much really matters. The passion hasn’t died. The need to educate the world on my views has petered out. I recently met someone who was a huge supporter of the 45th president of the United States. I kept my mouth shut. Hard to believe but I did. I held my tongue. I judged internally. Big time. But never said a word. I thought my head was going to explode. Rene’ would have been proud as my views once caused a shouting match on a golf course. The other guy left the course. Nitwit.

The trick to getting along in the world is to be able to chose your words on the fly. In everyday conversation. Certainly not my forte’ as I have been known to offend. Arguing positions in politics or religion just never ends well. What I am talking about is polite conversation. It is so easy to get along with people if we stick to the surface and try not to delve too deep. But it is just so much fluff. Getting into serious give and take discussions involves taking a risk. Putting yourself out there in a true and honest manner. Showing the world who you are. If they stick it to you what has been lost? Nothing. You gain insight. Insight into the person you are talking to. Most people recognize honesty. I think they also truly appreciate it. It makes us all feel safe in a conversation and we are more natural. If we take down the barriers and show an authentic view, we don’t have to try as hard to chose our words. They will flow. We won’t have to overthink because honesty from the heart is always more loving. We all struggle with some people where the conversation is forced. We know every word we say will be either misconstrued or just shut down or talked over. I believe open and honest truly does win the day. There is always a chance we may be misunderstood although the responsibility is on the other person to let us know. Being quietly offended over something I say will eat at you. Not me.

I have learned to accept that there will be times when I am misunderstood. I have also learned that I cannot change the perception of others. In the musical Wicked, there is a line from the song “For Good” that I have always loved. “I ask forgiveness for the things I’ve done you blame me for”. You see, most people don’t set out to hurt others. Sometimes innocent words just hit us wrong. In the end, it is up to us to chose how we react. Only we can change what goes on inside our heads and our hearts. Sometime though, sometimes… even if we are right… even if we didn’t do anything wrong… even if the other person is bat shit crazy and making things up in their head… We can still ask for forgiveness. If not for our sake, for theirs.

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