Sunday, August 8, 2010

Simple Things to Simplify- The Tongue

Of all bodily organs, the tongue can have the most devastating and long-lasting effects. I'm sure anyone can immediately call to memory a time when someone hurt them with words, but equally as quickly a time when they also hurt someone. During the last week or so, the effects of the tongue have been on my mind, then surprise, surprise I hear about it again this morning. A guy once wrote, "We all stumble in many ways. If anyone is never at fault in what he says, he is a perfect man, able to keep his whole body in check." (James 3:2)

Why should we be concerned? How people expresses themselves shows exactly what is going on inside them. Expressions are a reflection of a person's inner monologue. Even a well tuned filter can't catch everything that wants to come flying out, and with the popularity of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and every other sort of cyber-social communication, we are continually expressing what's going on inside us. As long as I can remember my filter has been terrible, but regardless, I definitely don't want to be known as a person who hurts others with words. However, tweaking just the words won't cut it since they are simply a reflection of what's going on inside. The inner monologue has to change first. (Maybe this wasn't a good subtopic for "Simple Things to Simplify," but whatever.)

When thinking of bad expressions, we have zingers, put-downs, unnecessary & unhelpful criticisms, tirades, "bless her heart" comments, and Freudian slips to name a few. However, other aspects of speech might not be so obvious. I've been thinking a lot about these lately & recognizing where my inner monologue needs to change.

Unfortunately, one of the fastest ways to connect with other people is to mutually complain about something or someone. Misery loves company? Not really. What kind of decent relationship is based on negativity? Complaining is rooted in the inner issues of discontentment, entitlement & the idea that a person or situation is not living up to some certain standard, usually an unexpressed & rather ambiguous one.

My attempted first step- Don't complain about anything I could have done something to fix. Don't disguise complaining as "just stating the facts."

"Sorry about the mess, no time to clean." "I didn't have time to make it nice." "Just trying a new recipe." "She's just that way, don't take it personally." I'm guessing you get the idea. Disclaimers can come from at least two roots:
  1. False Humility. By disclaiming a situation we are in control of that is actually perfectly fine, we intentionally invite responding comments of "Oh, it's absolutely lovely! Besides, you are quite talented, smart, beautiful, & you can make a perfect souffle!" False humility is a cross between a white lie and manipulation, neither of which are high quality attributes. My attempted first step- Just stop.
  2. Self-Consciousness. We recognize a situation we are in control of is not perfect and feel that if someone else notices this by themselves, we will be judged and it will be blatantly evident that we ourselves are likewise not perfect. Our instinct is to protect our pride and offer a disclaimer that brings public attention to the fact that yes, we do know something isn't perfect. AACK! It's just not perfect, OK?? Don't judge me! My attempted first step- Strive for excellence, but if something isn't perfect, let it go this once. It'll be ok. Do this again and again until the tunnel vision of perfectionism begins to crack & break away.
Are we pack rats of negative & insecure thoughts? Dump 'em. Free the space for happy thoughts & happy words.

1 comment:

  1. I like it and agree! Good thoughts and good goals... Might copy you!