May 30, 2024

Words Can Hurt You

geico-words-ad-pre-collision-400I enjoy GEICO ads. I think they’re clever and well written…I especially enjoy Jesse riding into the “THE END” sign and being tossed from his trusty steed while leaving his gal ’cuz a “loner has to be alone.” Yes, words hurt Jesse, and I’ve been thinking lately about how words can hurt all of us…not the words of others but those that we tell ourselves. Who would we be without words, and how can we keep them from hurting us?

CBS’s Sunday Morning program recently had a segment showcasing National Medal of the Arts winner Meredith Monk. Monk is a fabulous musician who, over the years, has perfected the art of using her voice not just to present lyrics, as most singers do, but as the instrument itself. Her singing contains no recognizable words or lyrics…just beautiful tonality and pitch.

I considered this broadcast a sign that it was time to offer up a concept I’ve been sorting out for a while.

The concept is that words are the currency of the Knower/Judger. Without words (as suggested in the article in this issue about pets), we have no vehicle to repeat stories that keep us trapped and underperforming. We can’t profess what’s right or wrong. We can’t express judgment of others’ appearance, performance, or beliefs. It’s my belief that, without words, we would simply exist in our Learner/Researcher, observing data and occurrences and reacting to them as we want.

We humans are the only species that frames thoughts with words. There are over eight million species on our planet. Homo sapiens sapiens is the only one that has an expanded vocabulary (regardless of the particular language used). All other species, from single-cell amoebic species up to and including species considered more intelligent, like elephants and dolphins, communicate almost exclusively by physical appearance and posturing. No words. If they are attacked, they retreat. If they find food in certain locations, they return. They live entirely in the present. They do not fantasize. They do not develop unreasonable expectations.

The Good and the Bad of Words
Humankind has been both blessed and cursed by language. Blessed because our ability to tell the stories of our particular tribe’s past has allowed us to develop civilizations. When we learned to communicate through a medium (cave walls, printed word, Internet), we no longer required direct communication between two people…it could span generations and miles.

The curse part comes with using words to lock the past into the K/J. With language, humankind has the ability to express opinions, judge, influence, etc., and to keep our stories about how things should be in our minds.

To put this in perspective on a personal level, have you ever had difficulty going to sleep at night? Or possibly awakened with your brain going 100 miles per hour on some incomplete subject or thread? You can’t do that without words!

Words are how we confirm and reconfirm our story…beneficial or not…what we really want or not. So, of course, words can serve us well. Affirmations are constructed of words. But they can also prevent us from being present in the L/R and escaping our fixed K/J reactions.

Try This
Here’s an experiment. When you’re having trouble getting to sleep (for all the brain buzz reasons mentioned above), close your eyes and eliminate the self-talk. All the words you’re both sending and receiving while you continue to embed the story in your mind. No words. Let the only words you use be “No words.”

My experience doing this has been quite positive.

I find it difficult to experience stress when I can’t tell myself the story that stresses me. I find it difficult to extrapolate an outcome from some occurrence because I have no way to express the logic that gets me there.

Using “No words” as a mantra to keep other words out of my brain has allowed me to fall asleep faster, and to do it again when my brain wakes me up at oh-dark-thirty in the morning.

A true mantra is (at least to Westerners) just syllables with no meaning, and I find that using that type of mantra simply masks the other words going on in my brain…they’re still there, and I still hear them. By using a meaningful expression (“No words”), I do a better job of replacing the troublesome words…and I minimize the words I hear in my head.

Try it. Let me know how it works. Unless you already sleep like a baby and nod off in seconds…


My brain will not stop

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