by Amy Hautman Bates
We talk a lot about language at SWC. What are you saying? What do you really mean? This careful attention to words is part of the school’s mission of “Transforming Consciousness Through Education.” And in a way, transforming education through consciousness.
A huge step in gaining self-awareness is hearing what is coming out of your mouth. I am noticing the judgments, mixed messages and limitations of many words. What is Mental Illness? What is Depression? Trauma? But beyond the shoptalk, there are lots of everyday words worth examining too. For example, I have become less attached to the word (and the concept) of “goals.” Goals are based on a future outcome and are tied to success and failure. Rather than forming a goal, I like thinking in terms of “intentions”. Intentions have a lot more open area–more room to cultivate the process as it unfolds. I can be very clear about my intention, and move in that direction, without limiting my view to the end result.
Another biggie for me, is labeling things as good or bad or better or worse. Using less judgmental words like, “more in line with what I value” is
better more in line with what I value; like open mindedness and flexibility. Not only does it widen the scope, it acknowledges that what is true for me, may not be true for you.
Listening carefully to the words I speak can sometimes be cumbersome. (Like typing when you think about what button to push.) I love fun, electric, spontaneous conversation. But, if I allow myself to ramble on, fast and loose, I might skim over something important, be misunderstood or stunt communication. So, where is a comfortable place in between? How do I “speak my truth” (be real) and yet be sensitive to how I am conveying it so that I can be understood. I am slowing down. I am listening. As I practice, I am becoming more discerning about the words I use without it halting my brain flow. But I must admit, being careful with my words can be exhausting. I am trying, but sometimes, I just want to kick back, ignore myself, and laugh. And, right now, I can, because I am a student where my job is to crack everything wide open, and question it all.