Saturday, October 24, 2015

Stalking Impeccable Language

 As Nia teachers we like to be impeccable about our speech.
To that end, we have a few words that we carefully stalk the use of: namely “Try" “Because" and “Hard”. All three of these words have a weakening effect on our speech and our psyche as the speaker and as the listener. We have declared these words as dangerous because of the messages sent by their use.

“Try" is giving ourselves permission to fail. Instead of saying “I’ll try” we suggest saying “I’ll do it”  
Saying “i’ll try” is almost the same as saying “I’m not going to do it.”  And we know how important it is to set our intention.  So we use this word VERY carefully, and for the most part, avoid it altogether. 


“Because” can easily be abused in many ways. It often wastes time explaining ourselves when just the answer is sufficient. 
For example, “I’m going to invite my sister because she’ll enjoy this.” Would be more impeccable as simply “I’m going to invite my sister.”
“Because” also sets the stage for telling stories, which are more often than not untrue and not impeccable. 
“She didn’t come today because it was raining." This only works if she specifically told you that she didn't come for that reason. And “I won’t go there because then I’ll be embarrassed.” is predicting the future. 
These would be more impeccable as "She didn't come today." and "I won't go there."
But I think the most heinous abuse of the concept of "because" is when it is used as the lead-in to a follow up to a question. “Do we need to wear our hats? Because I thought that was optional. I wore mine last week and I was the only one wearing it.” 

“Because" demonstrates insecurity in this case.  The question is sufficient. The explanation for why you asked the question is pointless. The word 'because' in this case means, 'here's why I'm asking the question.' The majority of the time, not relevant to the answer. 



Calling something “Hard” is making a universal judgment on something, when in truth, everyone has a subjective experience.
For example, “Cuing between the 3 and the 6 is hard.”  is not true. I disagree and find it quite natural to cue between 3 and 6, so it’s not true to say that it’s hard.
"I struggle with cuing between the 3 and 6.” is ok. “I’m practicing cuing between the 3 and 6” is even better.

It is more that just the words that are to be avoided, but the ideas they represent. 
Simply using a synonym, or omitting the word but keeping the intent, is not the solution.
I’ve heard all of these techniques used at some point:
“She yelled at me BECAUSE I made her mad”
is the same as
“She yelled at me. I made her mad.”
The ‘because’ is still implied by continuing on to say the second sentence.
The idea of eliminating the word “because" is to eliminate the explanation part, so skipping the word and going on to the explanation is missing the point.

“the 8BCs are HARD.”
is the same as
“the 8BCs are DIFFICULT”
the idea is to acknowledge that they are not hard, but rather that you are struggling with them. 
Once you understand them, they will no longer seem hard to you.
They are not inherently ‘hard’. Nothing is.

“I’m going to TRY to mention the focus twice in each song today.”
is the same as 
“I’m going to ATTEMPT to mention the focus twice in each song today.”

There is a way to be impeccable in all of the examples above:
“She yelled at me.”
“I’m still learning to do the 8BCs”
“I’m going to mention the focus twice in each song today."

As Nia teachers, you have most likely already been exposed to these instances, and we all practice them to some degree, as we see fit.

But I’d like to suggest we consider stalking a phrase that isn’t included above.
And that is the phrase “just a White Belt”.
Obtaining one’s White Belt in Nia is a huge achievement and deserves to be acknowledged and respected for what it is.
It is condescending to use the phrase ‘just a White Belt’ as it implies that it is a frivolous achievement and that more is expected. 
In fact it is quite an extraordinary undertaking that should inspire pride and reverence. 
Example, “Are you a Blue Belt? No, I’m just a White Belt.”
Could instead be, “Are you a Blue Belt? No, I’m a White Belt.”

It seems like a small adjustment, but actually the meaning and implication is very different. 
I admire all of the work, expense and dedication it takes to commit to being a White Belt. It is a very important achievement, and I’d like to see it being referred to as such.
There should be no spoken or unspoken implication that one holding a higher belt level is somehow more worthy of respect.
I’d like us all to remain aware of the use or misuse of our words and what kind of messages we are sending with our choices.

Thank you,
with utmost respect for you all,
JAG
just a First Degree Black Belt ;)


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