10/9/2023 (Day #4303)
In one of the phases of SOTP-NR, we discussed and learned about the “power” of words. Particular emphasis was placed on “absolutes”, such as “everything”, “always”, “every time”, “never”, and others. The overall theme about absolutes was their distortion of objective facts. For instance, “I always pray every night before bed.” That it ignores nights when I’ve forgotten or been unable to pray for whatever reason, so “every night” distorts the accuracy of frequency or regularity of my prayers. In interpersonal conflicts, absolutes are troublesome because they can “inflate” or “amplify” assertions of fact and distort the accuracy or validity of them. As in, “You never take out the trash.” when I actually took it out 3 of the prior 4 days, 4 times last week, etc. So “never” isn’t accurate, it distorts the objective facts and can wind up being inflammatory, where it’s more rational and objective to have said, “I would like for you to take out the trash more often.” More objective, more diplomatic, less inflammatory.
Pejoratives can be challenging, too. I’m a card-carrying member of the “Don’t Say Inmate” club. I just don’t know of a circumstance where addressing someone as “Inmate XYZ” is constructive or positive. The new BOP Director, Mrs. Peters, was reported to have initiated a policy or guideline in her position as the Oregon Director of the Department of Corrections addressing the use of the word “inmate” to address people. I’m a fan. It may seem like a small thing from the outside looking in, and I get that. My belief is that if you call someone a dirtbag repeatedly, eventually they could adopt a dirtbag mentality. On the flip side, addressing someone even just by their last name promotes collaboration and cooperation, diminishes some of the “us versus them” aura.
For me, specifically, I’ve noted before how I reformed my vocabulary and excised the curse words I was so proficient with. I’ve noticed since then that I’ve been able to maintain a more positive outlook and demeanor. It might seem like a small thing, and I won’t argue that one way or the other, I just know I’ve seen a positive change once I dropped the profanity. I found more diplomatic and effective ways to express myself. That’s not to say I don’t occasionally still let some words fly, I’m human after all and I’m not perfect. But considering the volume and …severity?…of wordage I used to employ in a variety of situations and in multiple forms of noun, verb, and adjective, I’ve got a much better handle on the ones that slip out.
Words have power, positively and negatively, and I’ve seen and lived that for my own eyes. Words can tear someone down, or they can build someone up, we all have that ability to choose our words and use them accordingly. Besides, words are free, they don’t cost anything to use!!
At ease with myself.