To read “The truth is never negative”, click here.
To read “The truth is never negative Part II”, click here.
Q: If the truth is never negative, as you say, is it wrong or inappropriate to use so-called “negative” words as a way of expressing ourselves? In your opinion, what is the “right” way to speak?
The “right” way to speak is the way that will help you create the results that matter most to you.
It’s important that we don’t try to become “word police” who go around admonishing people for the vocabulary choices they make when they’re describing their feelings and experiences.
It’s our nature, as human beings, to express ourselves in one way or another. And I don’t think it’s helpful to get involved in the business of dismissing any one’s mode of expression as invalid just because it may differ from ours.
No matter what words we use to describe our experiences, there will always be something that can be criticized about it because language isn’t perfect.
With that being said, however, I think it’s vital that we understand the distinction between using words to describe how we feel versus using words to describe how things really are.
While there’s nothing wrong with someone saying the phrase “this was a terrible day” to describe how crappy they feel, things become unnecessarily complicated and challenging when one’s personal judgments are mistaken for scientific facts about how the world works.
The problem for many of us is not that we use “negative” words to describe our own personal feelings and experiences, but that we forget that our personal feelings and experiences are personal not universal.
It’s perfectly permissible to say things like “he isn’t funny”, “she’s evil”, “this is a bad day”, or “life is difficult” if ALL we are doing is talking about our own subjective perceptions.
When we mistake those subjective perceptions for objective facts, however, we become closed to other possibilities. Moreover, we diminish our capacity to effectively engage those who may see life differently from us.
Once upon a time, when I uttered the words “life stinks”, I REALLY thought I was talking about the universe and not JUST my particular experience of it.
In my coaching sessions when people complain about their lives, many of them begin the discussion thinking that they are describing the actual way the world works and not just their individual feelings about it.
In almost all cases where creative breakthroughs take place, it’s because people shift from an “I’m telling it like it is” attitude to a “This is how I see it” attitude.
Positive speech and healthy communication is not so much about the language we use as much as it is about the direction we’re pointing in when we talk.
In many cases, we’re not pointing at our own quality of thinking/feeling when we say things like “life is crappy.”
Unfortunately, we’re often talking about atoms, molecules, circumstances, events, and other people when we say those things.
Being careful and conscious regarding how we speak is not about semantics. It’s about the attitudes & assumptions that underlie our semantics coupled with the effects those attitudes & assumptions have when we’re seeking practical solutions to life problems.
Watching our words, and being committed to choosing them carefully, is one of the most effective ways to increase clarity and creativity in our everyday thinking.
That’s my two cents.