It dawned on me that in my last post I used a word that might have been misinterpreted. So today’s post is meant to start the conversation about how the words we use can be a barrier to good relationships.

In last week’s post, I used the word ‘trigger’ the way that therapists use the word. Sometimes an event or a context can be ‘a trigger’ to emotional reactions or responses.

To someone very familiar with the language of therapists and their patients, this use of the word ‘trigger’ would be familiar, could be ‘benign’ with regard to causing emotional reactions or responses. These readers might completely understand that having dinner by myself at a table in the middle of a restaurant filled with loved ones and families might indeed cause me to have an emotional reaction. They would be right. Seeing couples tends to make me long for my Mr. Right, especially since there hasn’t been a Mr. Right in my life for a very long time. Seeing families together on Christmas Eve makes me feel lonely for my family. It would be emotionally easier for me to sit in the bar, where single people are and where I feel more ‘at home’ to enjoy a delicious Christmas Eve dinner.

To someone more familiar with the language of those who use firearms, and less familiar with the language of therapists, this use of the word ‘trigger’ could be unfamiliar, could be inflammatory with regard to causing emotional reactions or responses. These readers might have read my use of the word ‘trigger’ as a prelude to violent action. Of course, they would be wrong. They might reaction to me differently than those familiar with other uses of the same word. But how would they know?


Be impeccable with your word.

I do my best to live this advice, but I realize that I have a long way to go. I think that I will get better at this skill the more I reflect on what I know and what I mean. I think I will master this skill when I reflect on what you know and what you mean. Then, by understanding what I mean to say and how you might interpret them, then my words will really be impeccable…and perhaps conflicts will dissipate before they even start.

For now, I need to find a better word to use when I want to use one word to say “causes emotional reactions and responses” and remove the word “trigger” from this use in my vocabulary. Any suggestions?

What words do you use that might be barriers with those who you are having difficulty with? With those you want to have good/better relationships?

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