Welcome friends to Consider Yourself Hugged episode 32. Today’s Hug: I About Killed My Dang Wife! – Choosing your words. (Actually the word wasn’t dang but I don’t like to have a potty mouth on my podcast!) Click here to listen.
I’m Dr. Tami West, here every week to bring you tips on living a life that brings you mental and emotional wellbeing.
Here’s the story:
Last Wednesday Tim and I had just returned home from California and we’re on the rental car shuttle. There were four other men on our shuttle, obviously frequent travelers as they chatted about which airport was the worst - you know all that stuff frequent flyers do LOL!
Someone brought up an airport, I think in London, and the next thing I knew this older man said “I about killed my damn wife!“ Then he went on to tell the rest of the story: “We were in the international terminal and I left to go somewhere ( at least I think that’s what he said) and I told her to stay!“ (Now I might be exaggerating some maybe he ‘said stay right here’ but his hand moved forward & down as if he was telling a dog to stay LOL!) My husband gently patted me on the leg because he knew I was about to come out of that seat :-) I didn’t. He finished his cute little story about how he finally found her. All the men laughed. And we disembarked from our fun little journey.
Look I get it! If you’re a man listening you’re probably thinking geez that’s just what guys do! We don’t mean anything by it. I sure hesitate getting political but you might remember during the Trump campaign that video of him getting on a bus talking about women. Google it. And the defense was, it's just what men do! And also let me say I have no right to judge their marriage based on that 1 interaction (although I totally did 😁)
And the same could be said for women getting together complaining about their husbands. It happens. But I want to spend just a few minutes altering our view of language from, it just happens to no, we make choices and we need to become more aware of those choices
Sometimes I do keynotes and breakout sessions that give me the opportunity to talk about language. Over the past couple of months I have been putting in a slide that people seem to connect with and that has to do with language as a risk/benefit proposition. I’ll explain that in a bit.
Because I’m constantly talking about words, I thought it might be helpful to do an episode that is a little bit more in depth about how we use language. Part of this comes from chapter 3 of my book The Stress Club so feel free to dive in more there (Click here to get the book). AND if you’re really dying for more, here's a link to my actually dissertation, Women Constructing Identities: The Discursive Construction of ‘Stressed-out in Women’s Conversations and a link to my Final Oral Review on YouTube.
Grab some coffee or beverage of your choice and let’s dive in!
Think about this scenario: You’re ticked off at someone. Maybe you’re mad at a spouse, child, friend, or co-worker. You’re brooding for a bit, and he or she notices and asks, “are you mad?” And you say:
You’ve done it right? Your arms were probably crossed and you may have rolled your eyes. Inside you’re planning slow & painful revenge 😅
Most definitions of language include an element of an insight into the mind and/or heart of the speaker. Makes sense right? Someone asks you how you feel or what you think and you tell them. But if language truly is an insight into your mind and heart, then you’re not mad right? Well of course you’re mad!!
So discursive psychology helps to explain a part of this – it’s a model of action, not one of just thoughts. It’s not an attempt to explain how you were feeling or what you were thinking when you said no. Discursive psychologists attempt to understand what we do with our language rather than the thoughts behind our words. We believe that, although thoughts definitely underlie our words, we can’t reach those thoughts and evaluate them – at all.
Have you ever heard or said, Well she just thinks the entire world revolves around her! ? That assumption is probably based on something that woman said, but there’s no way I can know if she’s thinking that. I can’t put a microscope or a swab in her brain. And even if I could, it wouldn’t tell me anything. She’s the only one who truly knows what she’s thinking. But what I can do is study what she might be accomplishing with her words. I can study her actions.
Discursive psychologists don’t deny that we all have inner experiences, feelings, and thoughts. Of course we all have thoughts behind our words, but no one has the scientific ability to study them. So my study used this framework to focus on what women are doing when we talk. What resources (like word choices) are we drawing upon? How are we using the words? What are we accomplishing during the conversation? How are we creating our realities and ourselves during our talk? In other words, talk is seen as purposeful and thought to shape our realities.
This is a good place to stop and mention the slides I’ve been putting in my presentations. It’s a fun, basic way to explain If you want more of the psychological terms, etc refer to the links I mentioned earlier.
The 1st slide I’ve been using I titled “Risk Management” One element of DP is that when we speak we have multiple choices available to us and we pick the ones we want to use based on the risk and what we’re trying to accomplish.
The next slide has 3 examples of language. The 1st is I love you vs. Love you vs. Love ya. You probably don’t even consciously think about the choices you’re making but you choose one of those based on the boundaries you are establishing. If I say Hey love ya! And we don’t know each other that well you’d probably think nothing of it really. Especially since I’m from the south! But if I say I love you you might be a little taken aback! Of course tone & body language matter but still…
The 2nd is rounding up vs rounding down. Consider a shirt our just purchased for $29.99. Let’s say you’re married and if you and your spouse are trying to be frugal, how much is that shirt? $29.99 bucks (because everyone knows bucks are less than dollars 😁) But what if you’re irritated at the high prices of the store – now how much is the shirt? $30.00 PLUS TAX!!
The final is just a note that we also make word choices we may not be aware of in touch situations. That’s for a deeper episode – today I just want to make you aware that we do make choices.
Now let’s return to our man on the shuttle. “I about killed my damn wife!” Why did he say that? Was he trying to impress the guys? Did he just want to fit in with the guys? Was he creating himself as a strong man? Was he truly angry with his wife? Was he making a statement about international travel? Did he feel bad later? Does he talk about his wife like that all the time? Had he had a bad day? We won’t every know. Even if I saw him again and asked, here’s the bottom line:
No one can ever truly know what another person is thinking. Ever.
You CAN get in touch with what YOU are thinking and why you say what you say.
And you CAN make word choices more intentional.
So I recommend for a minimum of 1 week, each time you have some time before you speak, or write for that matter, ask yourself this question: What am I trying to accomplish by these word choices? Then intentionally decide if that’s the direction you want to go or if you want to look at the choices again. I promise, your mind will become more in tuned to your words and your communication level with soar!
And I would LOVE TO HEAR SOME INSIGHTS INTO YOUR MIND!
And that’s our time for today. I hope your learned something today that will help you better understand and therefore more intentionally choose the words you speak! Please pass the show link along to a friend or two. Look around here at tamiwest.com to get info if you’d like me to speak at your next event.
The monthly giveaway will come from leaving a comment here on the show notes so be sure to do that. It’s still a CYH mug, which I know you’ll love. August’s winner is Leslie Smith, so thank you Leslie I will be in touch!! And thank you all for listening – our community is continuing to grow every single week!
Finally, remembering our mental & emotional wellbeing goal, I hope that you will renew your thoughts daily, adopt empowering language that prevents verbal harm to yourself and others, and make positive mental and emotional choices on a daily basis.
And until next time, Consider Yourself Hugged 😘🤗