Mind your words

Words can have a powerful effect on people, we all know this, but it’s sometimes surprising how indifferent we are about how we use them. Sometimes the way we phrase something can have almost as much meaning as the words themselves.

For example. It’s not possible, in life to achieve absolutely anything. Somethings just aren’t possible (no matter how hard you try, that jet-ski just won’t work on lava, I’m sorry!). But the way we would naturally construct that sentence in English is, “You can’t do anything.” Which, depending on your emphasis can be cripplingly critical. But this isn’t just limited to what we say about other people.

In gaelic you wouldn’t say “I am sad,” you would say, “I have a sadness on me.” In Italian you are never hungry, you only, “have hunger.”

It’s an interesting rabbit hole to peer down and it’s sometimes worth taking a moment to be mindful of how you express things.

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of doing some rope practice with somebody. We did a hip harness and ended up doing a close to the ground and rather brief suspension from it. It turned out that this was their first time being suspended and afterwards I thanked them for letting me be a part of their first suspension. Not, “thank you for letting me tie you up.”

I don’t mean this in a condescending ‘look I have given you the gift of agency, aren’t I nice’ kind of way. I think it’s just as important to be mindful of this on the other side too. For example, when I talk to people about my first spanking, there is absolutely no doubt in my head that it was my experience, one that was fascinating and transformative and one that I was very happy to share with the other person. But it was mine Dammit!

Except of course it wasn’t. Because life is never that simple, and words usually aren’t enough. Which is all the more reason to use them carefully.