Vocabulary

Without awareness, nothing will change.

In my own life, I find vocabulary is the first step to awareness. When we are given (or produce) the “correct” vocabulary for our situation, it is as if a key fits into the locks and things begin to shift.

This happened for me the other day in therapy. We had been talking about my “hectic” schedule. And my therapist stated, “You have always had to be ‘more than’ enough, in order to see yourself as acceptable.”

I had always thought of myself as “not enough” but her changing of the phrase enabled me to grasp the underlying energy of what I attempt to do.

If 30 hours is a normal teaching load, then I teach 36 hours and take on 8- 12 in the summer. If the deadline for a consulting project is Oct. 18, I will get it done by Oct. 1.

Who cares if we just moved? I will host a sleepover for one stepkid, a birthday party and slumber part for the other, go to two concerts (we had the tickets), attend back to school nights, stay for every football practice, handle a college fair and so on and on.

The compulsion lay in the idea that if I was not doing the maximal, I was not acceptable. “More than” was the only way I understood how to “be”- be seen, be loved, be noted, be o.k.

It was also the only way, I could see to not be attacked. If I am doing “more than” than certainly no one could criticize me for being “less than”.

My therapist continued with “this is a learned behavior”.

It is not right or wrong. It is simply learned.

If I learned it, I can “unlearn” it. But, to do so, requires awareness (and vocabulary) on my part.

Now, when I envision situations, I ask myself, “Is this ‘more than’?”

I have to use this phrase, as asking myself “is this too much?” has absolutely no resonance for me. I have NO idea what “too much” is.

“More than” gives me a comparison from which to work.

The answers are always present. Sometimes we just need the right vocabulary 🙂

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7 thoughts on “Vocabulary

  1. So interesting how we move through life. I used to do a lot when I had little kids, but would long for the days when I could let off the accelerator. Now that that time has come, I have to tell myself that it is okay to do less! “Am I okay if I ‘do less’?” We’re at opposite ends of the same self-esteem issue! 😉

  2. http://tinyurl.com/pwwlj53 You’ve ready my post about leaving the busy behind, but here is a refresher. 🙂 Now, having said that, I think I’ve told you that I had to have a vocabulary shift in my life, too. I refused to say “I don’t have time”. I eliminated the word “time” and replaced it with “priority”. So, I could say “My dear niece, I don’t have time to take you prom dress shopping, your mom will.” But I could never say “It is not a priority to take you shopping” I could easily say “Today has been so busy, I don’t have time to work out” but I can’t say “My health is not a priority”. (You can sub the word ART in there for you!). That really helped me see where I should be spending my time, and it was an adjustment for me (and those around me, my boss about died the first time I told him I couldn’t get to it immediately because it wasn’t a priority – he has since adapted). And I have a couple of friends who are clear that they will “make time” for what matters.

    So, I know you can do this! And it will be good for you, and you, too, might have some unexpected awesome side effects! 🙂

  3. “It was also the only way, I could see to not be attacked. If I am doing “more than” than certainly no one could criticize me for being “less than”.

    My therapist continued with “this is a learned behavior”.

    It is not right or wrong. It is simply learned.

    If I learned it, I can “unlearn” it. But, to do so, requires awareness (and vocabulary) on my part.”

    You would not be criticised but abused, attacked; it is important to recognise the difference and be aware not to conflate the two (cf. first quoted sentence). It seems to me that the conflation here was just a slip but with language being important that slip likely indicates that you still do conflate the two. Such is the problem with suffering abuse.

    That you would be abused owes everything to an acculturated laziness, what I tend to call ‘low-standard-having motherfuckers’ that see any attempt or realisation of excellence as an existential threat. When we are abused and told that we need to be better it’s often the case that we bolt in one of two directions, either to prove the abusers wrong or to show just how much we don’t care about their opinions. But the thing is that no matter what we do they will not accept or support us, they will continue to abuse us as they can because that is fundamentally who and what they are: abusive, low-standard-having motherfuckers possessing egos that should be impossibly fragile but somehow exist.

    Your therapist would do well to recognise (and perhaps they do?) that we must not continually cope with the world because the great, gross common denominator refuses to change for the better. We do need to cope to some degree, true; we do need to alter our behaviours to some degree, true; but we do not need to accept that this is the way it is and there can be no other way. If we do that we run from the truth.

    Never be afraid to excel but, here, recognise if you are actually looking to excel or to defend yourself from people that simply don’t care about you and will not care whatever you do. You may find that some of that defence is actually the attempt to excel and some of the attempt to excel merely a defence. Life is too short to fend off all of the abuse, more often we need to let the idiot charging at us with a spear continue to run, step to the side and let them continue on until something fearsome devours them.

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