Language Lessons

From today's Daily OM:

There are many troubling phrases in our language that we use without considering their full meaning simply because they have been accepted into common knowledge. Even as our ideals progress, our language maintains some phrases from our past that no longer serve us, for example: Boys don't cry; good child; boys will be boys; problem child; illegitimate child; and many more. While these phrases may be used without harmful intent, they are inherently negative. Children can be especially sensitive to such phrases, which may stay with them their whole lives, adversely affecting their self-image and wounding their self-esteem. We can create positive change by choosing not to use these words and phrases as we come across them in our vocabulary.

It is challenging to examine our habits in terms of the words we use to express ourselves, but it is also exciting. Language is an area where we can exercise our free will, creating positive change in the world around us by simply choosing carefully the words we use. It may seem like a small thing, but our words have a rippling effect, like a stone thrown in a pond. People naturally pick up on the way other people speak, consciously or unconsciously changing the way they speak in response. We don't need to actively try to influence people; it happens without our even thinking about it. All we have to do is choose to be more conscious ourselves, putting to rest words and phrases that are outmoded, insensitive, or harmful. We can also exercise our creativity by creating new phrases that carry positive and loving energy to replace the old ones.

You may already have some ideas about phrases you'd like to transition out of your language, and now that you're thinking about it you may come across many more. As you consciously decide not to use these phrases, you may feel lighter and more joyful, knowing that you have chosen to drop baggage that was handed down to you from a less conscious time. As you do so, you elevate the language for future generations who would no doubt thank you if they could.
What phrases do you use without thinking? I tend to say that "I love" certain things...food, colors, whatever - when I really don't love them at all!


Bubba's Sis said...

On the flip side, I often say I "hate" certain things - hate is a strong word, and I'm trying to curb its use.

latt├ęgirl said...

I'm not sure why or when I started to wince at the common use of "Oh my God!" I am not religious in the traditional sense, although I was raised Catholic, but lately that phrase has been bothering me, especially when people say it on TV.

Not quite on-topic, just this morning I remembered that one of my SILs used a very thoughtless word during a conversation with my son. She called him a "mistake." (meaning, accidental pregnancy). I was aghast - and so was my son. She quickly tried to correct herself, adding "But a HAPPY mistake!" but the damage was done.

selzach said...

I've been thinking about this a lot in regards to the language I use with Peanut, especially when he's naughty. Hubby and I try to make him understand that he's not bad, the behavior is.

One of my nephews went through a period of aggressive behavior when his mom was stationed away from his dad (both are in the military). Apparently, his grandmother kept telling him he was bad. He'd go around dejectedly telling people his was a bad boy. It was heartbreaking.

Bubba's Sis said...

Oh. Mistake. Bad word.

I agree with the "Oh my God" thing, too. Bothers me.

Eric said...

What *phrases* do I use without thinking? Heh. I tend to not think. Period.

angelq said...

I think being married (and soon, raising children) puts a lot of pressure on people to change their phrases. I have difficulty with saying things that indicate that I have made a decision about our life. Regardless of who has made the decision, I am trying to change the statement to indicate that "We" have made the decision together. I realized that it implied to others that my husband played no part in making some of the major decisions about our life. Not intentional, just a reflection of my sometimes overwhelming need to be in control.