I really like words. I write for a living. I have quotes all over my bedroom. I'm always looking up word definitions. I'm currently studying the Hebrew language. My top love language is Words of Affirmation. Ask any of the editors I've had and they'll tell you that I'm the girl who goes over the word cap with almost every article I write. Words are my thang.
Most times, all of this works in my favor. But there have been instances when my appreciation for lots of words has backfired.
For instance, something that I'm a firm believer in is if you know your purpose in this life, you should be able to break it down into three words (or three terms or phrases). For me, I'm here to speak on sex, marriage, and the Sabbath. Three words. However, I spent A LOT of time not being clear on this, all because being wordy kept me from simplifying things.
Someone would ask me what my calling was and I'd be like, "I mean, I know I really like so-and-so or such-and-such but I can't put my finger on how to explain it in a way that make sense, so…" See how much of a run-on sentence that is? I was so used to using words—and sometimes talking too much—that I wasn't getting to the root of matters. Not only does that drain a lot of energy, it wastes a ton of time.
I had to find a way to remedy this. So, at the top of 2018, something that I decided to do was implement a one-word test. Meaning, I would force myself to break things down in one-word.
I told myself that if I couldn't do that, I was unclear about the issue at hand. And without clarity, it's hard to find any sort of resolve. Here's what I mean:
When I thought about what I needed to get my finances right, the word that came to mind was DISCIPLINE.
When I thought about what I lacked in a lot of my relationships, the word that came to mind was RECIPROCITY.
When I thought about what I needed in order to heal from some family toxicity I was experiencing, the word that came to mind was SPACE.
When I thought about what I lacked in a lot of my relationship dynamics that I would require to move forward, the word that came to mind was PROTECTION.
When I thought about why it was time to end a 15-year relationship with a male "friend" of mine, the word that came to mind was NARCISSISM.
When I thought about what I needed to give myself, the word that came to mind was PAMPERING.
Once I had a word in mind, I started lining up various areas of my life around it.
For example, since I said I needed pampering, I've spent most of this year doing that. I'm not overwhelming myself with a ton of self-work (after all, you typically can only effectively clean one room of a house at a time). I'm not incessantly journaling, taking a ton of self-help seminars or chain reading a pile of books. I'm investing in essential oils, loading up on vitamins and herbs, and keeping my (sometimes weekly) mani/pedi appointments. Because I am focusing all of my energy into pampering—no more, no less—it's teaching me some things about myself that I didn't know before. Things like, a part of the reason why I would get into relationships where there was no "reciprocity" is because I didn't know how to make myself a priority, let alone show others how to do it. Pampering has taught me that.
Or the narcissism thing. Do any of you remember how in the movie Enough (Jennifer Lopez, Bill Campbell), it was years into their marriage before the husband started showin' out? That's the thing about abuse and staying in abusive situations—sometimes the abuse is so sporadic that you justify staying.
The guy I was in the friendship with is a bonafide NARCISSIST. I mean, the epitome of it. So much so that whenever he would hurt me and I would tell him (remember, I'm wordy so, of course, I told him!), he would either totally ignore me (which is abusive in and of itself) or try and turn it around so that I would end up apologizing to him.
Until I got down to the one word that would adequately describe our cycle, I used to say he was that way because he was hurting or it was due to his own childhood abuse or the pressure surrounding his profession/platform; nonetheless, there is some truth to all of that. Oh, but when I started to study narcissism, not only did I see exactly the kind of person I was dealing with, it also brought me to the conclusion that until he got some therapy and actually did apologize for hurting me (without my asking for it or "babying him" through it), we needed to not communicate. It also helped me to detect narcissists in general.
What's something in your life that you just can't seem to get down to the bottom of? Rather than spending hours on the phone with one of your girlfriends or creating carpal tunnel syndrome by journaling pages of stuff about the issue, how about implementing my one-word test? Describe how you feel, what you need or what is missing in ONE WORD, and then build a plan around that.
Some of the most complex problems have the simplest answers.
Breaking things down into one word has taught me that.
Featured image by Getty Images
Originally published on December 5, 2018