Wyo4News Switchbacks: Words mean things


August 14, 2022

Words mean things.

I know it sounds obvious. But, as George Orwell once noted, a restatement of the obvious is sometimes a duty. We live in confusing times, and learning to be clear is essential. We also need to work at understanding others. The air of offense and drama often weighs upon us. But, it doesn’t have to be that way. The cloud can disburse The sun could shine again. But, to do that, we have to find words, good words. 

Finding the right words is honest.

Have you ever thought to yourself, “No one knows what I’m going through? No one understands.” Many have come to believe that no one could possibly understand their difficulties. Such a belief falsely relieves us of our responsibility to communicate. We then make demands when we should be expressing ourselves. The logic is that since you can’t understand my situation, you need to do as I say. But that isn’t communication it’s manipulation. Who likes manipulation?

So, finding the right words to state your feelings, thoughts, and needs is vital. To find those big words, we must expand our emotional vocabulary. 

Generally, our emotional dictionary is too small. Since emotions compose the majority of our inner world, we need a strong vocabulary for them. My emotional vocabulary has always been too simple. I was angry or happy. Sure it sounds easy enough, but it’s an inaccurate picture of my inner world. Anger could be frustration, disappointment, fear, loneliness, and a host of other words. And happiness could mean silly, fun, enjoyable, or even euphoric. 

See, words mean things. We need better words to clarify our inner reality to others. When we are able to communicate our inner world, understanding becomes possible. With understanding, our relationships will evolve and grow. 


Oh, and by the way, you have needs.

So few people actually show up in life. They have come to believe that they should not have needs. I know it’s illogical. After all, how could you live your life always giving and caring without an equal amount of receiving? You can’t. You have needs. 

The good news is that recognizing and communicating those needs is the way to get them met. There are people around you. You have people who care about you. There is someone who wants you to be okay. So, find words. Find good words. And…

Grown-ups speak up.

Speaking up is how you show up. So use your words. As a parent, I have often dealt with a child that did not have the words or the maturity to simply state their desires. When that happens, behavioral problems occur. The same is true for adults. When we can’t find the words or we don’t understand why we are having certain feelings, we act out. Defensiveness, avoidance, screaming, contempt, and stonewalling are all immature adult behaviors. At the very least, they are ill-informed.

You can tell people how you are feeling. Sharing your thoughts is possible. Relating your amazing and sometimes terrible inner struggle is important. 

Too often, we tell people what is wrong with them. The truth is we don’t know what is wrong with them. We only know how we are personally experiencing them. Telling others about “them” produces defensiveness. Sharing our inner struggles opens the door for understanding.

So, have fun with those words. Exact and authentic words can change your life.

To Better Words!