Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Words Vs. Thank You For Smoking

Words.  They are so small and yet they mean so much.  They can be the building blocks of truly wonderful things or can be the sledgehammer that ruins foundations.  I try really hard not to use words lightly.  There are certain words that are very important to me, they are fundamental to my core.  What I feel like I’m realizing over time is that I may be a minority of one when it comes to this sentiment.

The words ‘Sorry’ is one of the most important words a person can utter.  It is a show of contrition for real and imagined slights.  It is a word that when given inspires, in me at least, a desire to want to let things go, to want to move forward, to truly forgive and forget.  I think what I’m realizing is I utter this word FAR too often, and while I truly mean it, I apologize for everything.  It is a default setting as I will accept and even reap blame that isn’t mine.  I think I do this out of a feeling of being profoundly unworthy of the people I know and the relationships I have.

At the same time I have found that I hear that word very little.  There are many folks that I choose to spend my time around who find that uttering that is an anathema to them.  Or maybe it is just saying it to me.  And maybe that is because I say it so often that I’m seen as somehow subconsciously unworthy of it.  I’m not sure, in reality, why I find a lot of my relationships devoid of this exchange or sentiment.  It isn’t just with me either. 
 Just look at the world we live in.  There are cops making mistakes and killing people, there are politicians who say or don’t rebuke racially inflammatory things, there are companies who lie, cheat, and steal and get caught.  All they need to do is show some gawd damn humanity, apologize, and try to do right by others and the public would forgive them.  Sorry is word that is ripe with emotional reciprocity that means so much, and it’s a shame that we don’t hear it more often.  And it is far more a shame that when it uttered it isn’t really meant.

If ‘Sorry’ is the doorway to understanding then ‘Thank You’ is the backbone of strong interpersonal, successful relationships.  I think overall, we want to help one another out.  I am front row a lot of time to people who do amazing things for others without being asked and do so accepting only a ‘Thank You’ in return.  People will give of themselves, their time, their energy, etc. just for those two little words.  Speaking personally when I hear those two little words it really does make me feel like the person who utters them appreciated whatever I did.

That’s why when you don’t hear it the taste it leaves is bitter.  I’m always curious as to why it is so hard for someone to utter those two words.  When that happens it denigrates the sacrifice you’ve made.  It undermines the effort you have given.  It truly shows you that you mean very little to that person.  All that time, effort, or whatever is meaningless.  It is beneath the notice of that individual.  I work really hard to never do that.  I try and make sure that every single person who gives me their effort, their advice, their assistance, their time, etc. knows that I appreciate it, knows that I see it as a precious commodity, and that it means the world to me.  Two words, and yet they are infinitely powerful.

With ‘Sorry’ & ‘Thank You’, you have two words/phrases that can build, for my last example I want to point out one that is simply built to tear down; ‘Yeah, But’.  The idea of ‘Yeah But’ is the ultimate qualifying statement.  It is someone saying ‘I agree with you on a level that keeps you quiet, now shut up so I can tell you why you are wrong’.  It is the phrase built to invalidate your emotional state.  I know a lot of people who use this with the best of intentions.  They want you to see that what you feel in that moment lacks clarity or perspective or whatever other thing their opinion posits.  For me, the problem is I don’t want that.  A lot of times I just want to be heard.

I don’t have to be agreed with; many times I know I’m spewing bullshit that I’m simply trying to work out verbally rather than internally.  When you ‘Yeah But’ someone you are letting the other person know that you respect their point of view only long enough to disagree with it.  There are a lot of times where it’s used to show that there is an alternative perspective or done with the intention of defending someone who isn’t there or their opinion.  What is frustrating is sometimes we just want to be heard.  A lot of times I don’t need to have a discussion regarding my feelings, I simply want them heard, believe me I’ll work through how insane they are as we go your assistance in that isn’t needed.

Speaking as someone who likes to be the Devil’s Advocate on a lot things steer away from the ‘Yeah But’, I know I do.  Steer clear of it because it cuts to the core of someone’s feelings.  It is a phrase ripe with invalidation.  There is no faster way to frustrate someone than to listen to another person, drop a ‘Yeah But’ on them, and give your unwanted opinion on that feeling they are working through.

Words.  They are just words, but they mean so much.  And in the end they mean everything to me.  They are the backbone of communication and explanation.  I just wish I could get that across better.  These three words or phrases can truly build or creatively destroy; they are three phrases with infinite power.  And I’m not even touching upon the most powerful word, Love.  I’m going to leave that one alone entirely.  Just remember think about what you say, think about what it means.  Not just to you but to those that are going to hear it.  Think about what those words mean to you, and realize the power you truly hold in regards to your relationships with other human beings.       

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