Wednesday, October 5, 2016

The Power of Words

We all go through different phases in our lives when it comes to our physical state.  My phases have all revolved around weight (big shock there, right? *LOL*), and I know many others who have had the same sorts of phases.  My current, and final as far as I'm concerned, phase is acceptance. I am who I am, and I have no plans to deliberately attempt to alter my weight.  I am making a concerted effort to eat a more nutritionally balanced diet, and to listen to my body in regards to its wants and needs.  Currently it tends to scold me when I slack on fruits and vegetables, so there has been an increase in those over the past few months.  I have found myself wanting less meat in my diet, which is a bit of a surprise because I've always been a bit of a carnivore-leaning omnivore, but if that's what my body wants, that's fine too. There are other times when my body demands a Milky Way bar, so I eat one and that is completely fine as well.

I know many others who are making their own choices regarding their bodies, as is their right, and some of whom are actively dieting to try and lose weight.  I support their choices, and as they achieve goals they have set for themselves, I cheer for them because they have accomplished something they set out to do. My thoughts on those goals are not relevant to them, so I do not share them, I just share their joy in achieving something they have wanted to achieve.  If they ASK for my thoughts, I will share, but until then, it is not my place.

It can be difficult at times to be a bystander, though.  It isn't difficult so much because I disagree with the basic philosophies behind their choices. I have friends whose political philosophies are 180-degrees from my own and we get along just fine.  It is difficult because there is a pattern of behavior that I have seen occur in those who are losing weight, that has happened to me when I was temporarily successful in losing weight, that can cause me to clench my teeth and force my hands away from the keyboard until I get myself back under control.  It is a completely understandable phase, and one that is really quite inevitable and is NEVER meant to cause bad feelings or hurt to anyone else but is, instead, fueled completely and totally by enthusiasm and the desire to share a feeling of joy that they are experiencing and have not felt in a long time...if ever.

This enthusiasm for the choices that they are making tends to lead to inadvertent shaming of others choices in a myriad of ways. Usually it is through word choices.  The most common that I have seen is the assignment of moral judgment to food items.  This food is "good".  That food is "bad".   Eating this food requires that the person in question work out extra tonight, carrying the implication that their workout is their punishment for eating said food.  Walking past this food in the break room multiple times in a day makes this person virtuous in their restraint, carrying the accidental implication that those who did NOT walk past and who "indulged" are not as virtuous.

This can also lead to further discussion of such things as "the obesity problem".  That phrase makes me want to reach out and do violent things because without meaning to do so, the person who says it suddenly turns me, my body, and the body of everyone who looks like me, into a problem.  We're suddenly bad, something to be avoided or changed.  We become people who need to have a war waged against them.  Of course, the majority of people who use the phrase "the war on obesity" do not intend to imply that obese people need to be eradicated or destroyed, they simply mean that obese people's FAT needs to be eradicated, but stop and think about that for a moment.  REALLY think about it.  My fat is a part of me, it isn't some fat suit that I put on while the cameras are rolling and then take off again.  I'm not a thin person trying to get out.  I am me, fat and all.  So when someone says that they want to wage war against my fat, they are saying that they want to wage war against me.  When someone says that obesity is an epidemic that needs to be eradicated, they are saying that they want to eradicate me.  When someone says that the obesity problem needs to be eliminated, they want to eliminate me. They may not realize that is what they're saying, but there it is, black and white, plain as day to the person who has the joy of being the problem to be eradicated.

Words have power.  They can hurt and they can heal.  They can support or they can destroy.  We hear all of the time that we are all too focused on political correctness, and that people need to toughen up and not take everything so personally.  That isn't the point at all. The point is that we are growing up as a species, and humanity is finally starting to realize that maybe...just maybe...we should be more aware of these things.  We're going through the growing pains of it all, and pain is the correct word, because I know it is an ache in my heart when I realize that I have accidentally said something that has caused another person even a moment of injury.

Very few people enjoy truly causing others emotional injury.  I believe that most of the time if we had the power to take any words back that caused harm, we would do so in a moment, without hesitation.  So I'm suggesting that since this is not possible, we instead take those moments and use them to consider our words BEFORE we throw them out into the universe.  It doesn't take long to just pause and evaluate how the words we're about to say or type or write might be taken by people with viewpoints that are different than our own.  Not to mention that this kind of exercise helps us open our own minds up to new views and ideas, and expanding points of view are rarely bad things, really.

So please, enjoy achieving your goals, and cheer along with others who are doing so, but be aware of how you are stating your support and enthusiasm.  What you mean as a positive may read very differently to others.  Just consider that, and even consider asking someone you know who has a different point of view "How does this read to you?".  You may be surprised at how what you meant to say differs from what others heard.  Being aware of that is a good thing, because it lets you decide if you want to leave it that way or if you want to make changes.

Because, again, words...they have power.

No comments:

Post a Comment

All comments are moderated, so if you don't see your comment right away don't worry, I'll review it and add it as soon as possible. The only time that comments won't be approved is if they are inappropriate. And yes, I am the sole arbiter as to what qualifies as inappropriate. :)