Do We Shape Language Or Does It Shape Us

In his book The Biology of Transcendence: A Blueprint of the Human Spirit, author Joseph Chilton Pearce says, "All of us know intuitively that we are not by nature savage beasts. Fewer, however, are aware that we are driven to some fairly beastly behaviours by enculturation, despite the fact that the process itself is supposed to prevent this."


The subject of language and enculturation has always been a fascination to me .. how we shape language by speaking and how it also shapes us in the process is powerful stuff. Having devoted myself for well over a decade to the topic of language and several decades to the examination of the symbiotic relationship between culture and individual, I can say that when one objectively examines language and communication within the context of power, partnership, personal and social responsibility, the discoveries are surprising, disturbing and finally liberating. One finds that the victim-oppressor relationship is quite tragically alive and well in how we speak. For instance, if you use words like selfish, arrogant, manipulating, or disrespectful, you will undoubtedly find yourself in the grips of that very dynamic. This very language casts a dark and heavy net over the relationship.
What if we decided to never again in our lifetime use those words? Would we still be able to fully express ourselves, retain our authenticity and initiate change? The answer is YES ABSOLUTELY! And relationships can only become more fulfilling when we deliberately make that choice. When we refuse to use language that attacks, puts down and penalizes, it forces us to dig deeper and rethink our approach. It forces us to give greater consideration to our deepest underlying motives (quite often operating without our awareness) and to exercise our generosity muscle. It forces us to raise the bar in how we relate. It forces us to remember the necessity and beauty of our inter-dependency and how we need each other.

Below is a poem by David Whyte that I share at almost every workshop titled Loaves and Fishes. And the 2nd video .. those of you who know me well know that I love movies, especially those where people are real and vulnerable with each other .. where they step into those often difficult conversations that ask them to become courageous and true. Enjoy this moving scene from Good Will Hunting.

Related: 4 Surefire Ways to Ruin Relationships