Saturday, August 20, 2011

Words as disease; reassessment as cure

This is a topic, actually, that has been near & dear to my heart for over two decades: precision and truth in speech.
It started for me when I suddenly became glaringly aware of the words that were flying out of my mouth, & the mouths of those around me, that were so amazingly toxic & (the key, for me) not even vaguely true.
Like "That just kills me."~~"That purse is to die for!"~~"You're getting on my last nerve."~~And the ones that bother me the most: "War on (cancer/ terror/ poverty etc)"~~"Fighting (homelessness/ child abuse/ hunger etc)"

Now, that first group you may say (as I did, lo, those many moons ago) oh, they're just funny sayings. They're colorful & nobody takes them literally. What's wrong with that??
Well, for me, it just became about speaking truth. None of those funny/cute sayings are literally true, but they make the violence of our speech transparent to us, which can make us numb to the effects  that my, or another's, speech may engender.
If you still think I am being silly, just ask yourself honestly, does anything in you bristle, as women, to hear phrases like "little lady~bitches~she's on the rag~great melons~ho~sweetie (when used by a man who doesn't know you; especially when you are a subordinate in a business setting)"
If we're honest, one or more of those probably don't feel comfortable for a variety of reasons. But the (usually) men who are saying them might defend these as "just something I said, don't take it so seriously".
So, I began to get very conscious of what was coming out of my mouth.
Because what is coming out of my mouth, is what is going on in my head (where else would it have come from?), at least subconsciously.
And what is going on in my head is affecting my cells. Literally.
(See the book Molecules of Emotion by Candace Pert, a scientist who did the work proving that every thought~~in words, or just experienced as an emotional state~~changes the chemical receptors on every cell in your body.)

The second group, "War on..." & "Fighting..." are ridiculous if really looked at.
How can you have a war on a concept? Or fight a multidimensional human experience?
Who could drop a bomb on an activity (domestic abuse) or go give a black eye & bloody lip to a socioeconomic problem (hunger)?
That's just crazy speech &, again, we become deaf & blind to the violence we participate in when we speak this way.
In truth, we want to end, transform, overcome, educate about, bring relief from, heal and/or make these things obsolete. So why don't we just say that?
Just bring your awareness to your speech, listen to friends & TV, look at headlines & articles with an eye toward that inquiry.

Pardon my language, here, but I saw a piece of graffiti about 21 years ago that transformed me forever about these ideas:
Fighting for peace is like fucking for virginity.

I still quote that graffiti to this day.

But what has that got to do with me & this particular journey I am on??
Well, with any major disease process or trauma people respond from their heart, trying to speak to what is happening. And we are influenced by the speech patterns of our culture.
So, if you have said one of these things to me, I am not offended, nor rebuffing your concern & love for me, but I would just ask you to sit in open inquiry (or prayer, or meditation; whatever is true for you) about the inner state behind these phrases.

"It is so unfair."
Fairness as regards to life is a false concept; fairness only applies to board games or business dealings

"You don't deserve this."
If you would say that an evil person does deserve a "bad" life experience, then I would simply notice that the construct is based on a punitive worldview. Personally, I think deserving & undeserving are only true in contests with stated rules & are completely false concepts as regards to life in general.

"You've been through so much already."
I know this is said from love, like "Oh! Make it stop, world!", but there's no quota on life experiences. Every single human has a bacoodle of painful experiences happen to them; it is not damaging unless it either overwhelms the capacities we have at the moment or if we resist the experience with all of our might.
Neither of these things is happening to me, so I really am ok. And I love you for loving me so much!!

"This disease is the enemy."
This is also said about Alzheimer's, an incredibly painful process for the loved ones of the person with the disease. But, again, just speaking truth, no disease is an enemy. It is a biologic process.
Healing, not adversarial fear or hatred, is what is needed.

"You can fight this and win."
Cancer is not a war. I am not interested in fighting against a misdirected physiologic process in my body. Fighting has a winner & a loser. (subnote: Dying is not "losing". As my fiance used to say, with great gentleness & humor, as he was dying of cancer, "Nobody gets out alive. It's ok.")
Fighting requires~at the bodily level~adrenalin & cortisol, two of the "fight or flight" hormones. They send out a distress signal to the nervous system, keep us out of the parasympathetic nervous system, where relaxation & (!) healing occur, and create oxidative stress (= damage to the tissues of our body).
That doesn't seem very practical self-talk if one has a disease...

So, as Forrest Gump said, "That's all I have to say about that." :-)

I love you all.
And that I, most assuredly, mean literally!

1 comment:

d smith kaich jones said...

one of my favorite books is the mental game of baseball. i recommend it to anyone everyone cause it's not about baseball, really, it's about life and thinking and stuff. one of my favorite bits is the way the authors teach (or try to teach) players to think - no negatives. can't go to the plate with a bat in your hand and think "i hope i don't miss this" or "i hope i don't strike out", because the brain doesn't process that no. it hears "i hope i miss this" or "i hope i strike out". the brain just doesn't do negatives, according to these guys. the batter has to be thinking "i hope i hit this ball". he has to be thinking in positives.

the words we tell ourselves, the words we use, matter immensely.

you have me smiling.