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Lost in translation

“You’re too quiet.”

Translation: “I would like to know more about what you’re thinking and feeling.”

“You talk too much.”

Translation: I do not have the energy, time, or interest-level to be attentive to what you’re saying right now.”

“You don’t make any sense.”

Translation: I don’t understand what you’re saying.

“You’re too slow.”

Translation: “I need to move at a different pace.”

“You’re too fast.”

Translation: I am unable to keep up with you.”

“You stress out too much.”

Translation: “When you are emotionally disturbed, I begin to feel uncomfortable and I don’t know what to do about that. This happens more frequently than I would like.”

“You’re annoying.”

Translation: “I don’t particularly enjoy it when you do that. Will you please stop?” or “It bothers me when you do that. While you are free to continue, I need to remove myself from your presence if you persist.

“You’re an idiot.”

Translation: “I respectfully disagree” or “I have a different opinion.”

“People don’t listen to me”

Translation: I have not yet learned how to command people’s attention and influence those around me.

“People don’t respect me.”

Translation: I have not yet learned how to command respect or ensure that my needs are being met when I interact with others.

I could go on and on with more examples like the ones above, but I believe this list will suffice to illustrate an important observation about the way many of us have learned to communicate:

While experience, by its very nature, is subjective and personal, many of us describe those experiences using language that is objective and scientific. In other words, we frequently describe our lives as if the primary features of our experience are composed of properties and attributes that exist in other people or in the objects of our perception.

When someone says “Justin Beiber’s music is awesome or horrible”, they are speaking as if the property of “awesomeness” or “horrible-ness” exists inside of the music itself. In many cases, what they are really saying (without even being conscious of it) is that they simply enjoy or do not enjoy Justin Beiber’s music.

When we make statements about the world (ie. “that’s difficult”), we are being objective. We are describing things as if that is how they actually are.

When we make statements about the way we experience the world (ie. “I don’t know how to perform that particular task), we are being subjective. We are describing things in terms of how we perceive them while remaining neutral as to what’s REALLY going on.

One person says “that’s too expensive” (objective) and another says “I can’t afford it” (subjective).

Does it make a difference?

Do our descriptions affect our emotions, experiences, and actions?

I believe they do.

I believe that the way you describe your life, determines what kind of universe you live in.

In tomorrow’s post, I’ll share more of my thoughts.

Until then,

Create/describe a great day 🙂

T.K. Coleman

This Post Has 4 Comments
  1. Today running through the rain with my 7 year old son to the library, when we got there he says ‘Oh good at least it is awake!’ Isn’t that great? Not ‘open’ but ‘awake’ he is my guru!!

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