On overcoming submissiveness, passive voice, inner monologues and the psychological effects of marginalizing-language.
Have you ever thought about how the ways that you speak and are spoken to by others, directly influences and also reflects the thoughts you think, prompting the moves you make and the thinks that you then whisper to yourself, when you’re all alone, late at night?
I hadn’t, until we theorized about it in one of my classes today which explores ideas related to Gender and the Psychology of Women.
I found today’s lesson “Women & Language” extremely profound and unbelievably relevant because it spoke directly to my understanding of my own psyche and the psychological makeup of many female-identifying individuals across the globe more generally.
You see as a naturally “soft-spoken” female in today’s busy-body world, this quest to navigate our chaotic and confusing socio-cultural climate sometimes seems like an impossible endeavor. I often find myself wrestling with the inner judgements that I pass when it comes to myself and others, in addition to those I also outwardly witness on a day to day basis.
While part of me has been conditioned to fear judgement and scenarios of self-evaluation, another part of me has been conditioned to focus on performance in these types of situations, to consider what I’m up against and effectively use the tools in my tool box to keep going, to persevere not only for personal growth, but for a greater good. When I compete, I do so with a victory for society in mind. And I do not typically consider myself a competitive person, except for when it comes to those I love…that’s when I get scrappy and pick up the gloves.
The gloves I’ve got on right now seem to be attempting to fight words with words, in the name of love for humankind and the communities I consider myself a part of, by default. I have picked up these gloves not to put on a show, but in the hopes of communicating a cold hard truth; that the power of language is in and of itself a great force of good and evil.
As humans it is in our nature to give words power, to search for meaning. To look for answers. One thing that I personally find myself caught up in however is over-speculation, oftentimes I find myself searching for meaning where there is none. I get lost in translation, eyes wide waiting for that “subliminal message”, that just hasn’t reached my mailbox yet. Counter intuitive, wouldn’t you say? Especially for someone who thinks, loves and lives by way of her own intuition.
To me it seems that we run into an almost pathological juxtaposition when we find ourselves stuck in the crossfire of being a voice and being heard. Sending a message and receiving one. Perhaps this may be why personally it becomes particularly difficult for me to express myself in social situations, particularly verbally–time and time again. Or perhaps I’m just a social scaredy cat, thats the way I was wired.
Or maybe there is truth in the saying, “We are our own worst enemies.” (when it comes to some thought processes and negative cognitions). However there is no question that the language one encounters on a day to day basis acts to either reinforce or challenge those internal monologues one tells themselves. The internal monologues which then go on to determine how they are or are not able to use their voice in the presence of those surrounding them.
I am so guilty of using linguistic disclaimers, hedges and tag questions that I didn’t even realize weaken my voice until today. Yes I’ve heard that passivity gets doesn’t get you anywhere. And part of this goes back the horrible habitual patterns of comparative thinking that I have developed over the years, and still get sucked into when I am feeling sensitive and vulnerable, when my OOTD incorporates that dark blue “emotion minded” thinking cap. However, I believe that these types of cognitions are not necessarily my fault. It goes way beyond me and mine. You know what they say, it takes a village.
With this in mind and from a not-so-psychological standpoint, it becomes so clear to me how important environmental factors, including but not limited to language (body and verbal), reinforcements (negative and positive) and the surrounding vibes and energies truly are in contributing to one’s inner cognitions.
Is this making any sense? maybe not quite. But I think my goal here is just to advocate a little for my fellow introverts, for my self, and for those who naturally gravitate toward passivity. You can be bold–and you can be strong–and it doesn’t have to be the same boldness or strength that others around you exude.
And for the record, I do not mean to discourage anyone (extroverts) from speaking their mind. I am not trying to tell you to hold back because you might be wrong or you might hurt someone’s feelings. However there is a difference between knowing when to “shut the hell up” and learning how to be cognizant of the person next to you.
By all means, say what you need to say, do what you need to do. For your own well-being absolutely but maybe even more importantly, for the sake of those that love you, those that care about you indefinitely, and those that you haven’t even met yet.
What it all boils down to I guess is this; I just want to give you something to think about… because you never know who might be listening, or on the flip side, who might be dying to be heard.
And just a final note to self (and anyone else whom it may concern)
- Treat others as you wish to be treated
- Speak your peace and speak it PROUDLY. But please don’t forget to speak to yourself as if you are speaking to a loved one.
- And when you are speaking to a loved one or anyone, be sure to look them in the eye–Your words are more powerful when you do that, when they come from the heart, project from the mouth and radiate through the eyes.
[This entry is dedicated to a very extrordinary group of individuals, who have given me light and love in my darkest days, you all embody and give so much meaning to the following four letters “S. G. T. M.” Thank you.]