My boyfriend is in the back room, and I’m in the kitchen.
I have my hands full but I want to tell him something. I have a choice… I can either yell loudly so he can hear me, or I can pause what I’m doing, and walk over to speak with him. What’s the difference? It takes a little extra energy to stop and start my task, and maybe a bit of time to walk the distance into and back from the other room. Maybe it’s easier to scream what’s on my mind and get it over with.
In my experience, the more comfortable I am speaking in a loud and demanding way in daily conversation, the more quickly and strongly I respond during a disagreement. Every time we speak, we are reinforcing communication patterns. So when you speak sarcastically, you’re strengthening your ability to quickly offer a smart and jabby comment. When you speak slowly, you’re refining your ability to accurately and carefully choose your words.
Basically, when you talk dirty, you are only hurting yourself.
When you use your words with the intention of being offensive or derogatory towards another person, you are actually only cluttering your own mind with filth, and your own filth at that. Which means that it’s stench is only going to stick around way longer than anyone else’s.
Okay, so you aren’t a shit-talker. You’re past the stage of saying things to other people that you would not like anyone to say to you. I’m so glad, because that shit is so, like, last year. Even still, saying what you mean isn’t easy, but meaning what you say is so important. It’s the definition of truthfulness, but there is a fine line between truthfulness and “too much information.” Dancing along this line is something that we must do every day.
So how do we dance around the dirty? When it comes to communicating our emotions to another person, how can we do it in a way that leaves both parties feeling better?
Encouragement is the opposite of talking dirty, and sustainable expression happens somewhere in the middle. Conversations are full of complexities, nuances, past history, and future projections. So if you are struggling to put your feelings into words, or if you are experiencing strong emotions, here are three steps that might help.
Ultimately, the process is all about witnessing how you want to react, and then responding with an intentional action that is truthful and sustainable.
Step 1: BE – EXPERIENCE – FEEL
In order to express yourself, you must be fully aware of what you feel. This means that you focus on what you are experiencing – physically, mentally, and emotionally. This step is all about being in the fullness of your present state, and embracing each moment exactly as it is. Embracing requires full acceptance and freedom from judgment, despite how good or bad it might feel.
Paint a vivid picture of your present experience, capturing the essence of what you are feeling, from the broad brushstrokes and overall experience, to the small details, associations, and memories. Or maybe you imagine your present experience as a song, listening for all the different parts, including the rhythm, melody, lyrics, as well as the overall feeling that the song gives you. You can always choose another metaphor that personally resonates with your daily work or interests.
Dive into your present experience by asking yourself these questions:
- What physical sensations am I experiencing right now?
- How does my breath feel – is it choppy, shallow, deep? Where is it located in my body?
- What memories of the past and projections into the future am I thinking about?
- Do I notice any resistance, or am I accepting this present experience?
- What does the vivid picture look like? What does the song of the present sound like?
Allow and embrace everything that comes to surface.
Step 2: EXPRESS – CONVEY – SHARE
This is the most commonly ignored step, because it can sometimes be uncomfortable or feel unnecessary or excessive. But we can express ourselves through a broad spectrum of methods, and it is an absolutely necessary step in the process of transformation.
Expression can occur in three forms:
- Verbal articulation
- Motor action, such as a body movement, writing, drawing, sound, etc.
- Intellectual understanding
Because we live in a strongly intellectual culture, I highly encourage focusing on expression as a motor action. Personally, I find it the most beneficial and cathartic. Expressing our thoughts and feelings through a body movement, a sound, a word, or journaling allows us to experience them on a whole new level. It invites us to see what that emotion would look like if we were to embody it. Maybe it looks like something we want to keep and continue, or maybe it looks like something we’d rather let go. But only after expressing it can we determine if and how we want something to change.
Expression can happen in solitude and/or with another person, but it can be useful to practice conscious expression on your own first, and then apply it to your conversations with others.
Here are a few suggestions to get you started:
- Free-writing journal: Give yourself a stack of blank paper and set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes. Allow yourself to write everything that comes to mind, stream of consciousness.
- Video journal: If you have a smartphone, use your video camera to record yourself having a conversation, with you! Give yourself a time limit and get it all out. Cry, scream, pout, whine, whatever you need to fully express your full picture/ song of emotions.
- Blind movement: Give yourself some space and privacy to be in your body. Close the door, shut the blinds, turn on music if you like, and move your body as if you are shaking out the emotion. What does it look like in your body, how would it move? Use your breath as a key component and allow any physical movements to arise – kicking, punching, dancing, swirling, spinning, jumping. Let. It. Out!
Deeply experience your present state and express it through your whole body.
Step 3: CHANGE – TRANSFORM – CREATE
This is the final step that brings us full circle, and it allows us to experience the things we desire. After you have fully felt your emotion or feeling, after you have expressed it, now it is time to change it. Transform that feeling into something positive and literally create a new experience.
This is intentional action. This is moving in a purposeful direction. You are claiming your power and shaping your life in your own vision. So how do we intentionally shape the way we communicate in a way that leaves both parties feeling seen and heard? Here are a few questions to ask yourself while you are navigating this sometimes precarious, step:
- What do you need? What do you want to hear or receive?
- What is the ideal & what is the less than ideal outcome?
- What kind of person would you be if you did not change your present state?
- How do you want to feel and how do you want to be perceived?
- If you are in a conversation with another person, how do you want it to end? What can you offer that will make this conversation worth their time and energy as well?
Ground yourself in humility and gratitude. It can be difficult to set aside our pride, to change our stance, or to meet someone halfway. But an exchange does not happen with two people standing still, throwing things at one another. An exchange occurs when we reach out to meet in the middle, to offer a part of ourselves and receive something in return.
Unnecessarily yelling at my boyfriend from across the house is a totally avoidable habit.
When I take the extra time and energy to speak to him the same way I want him to speak to me, it’s a win-win for everyone. When we neglect our daily habits of communication, especially with the ones who are closest to us, we are, quite frankly, shitting where we eat. And by speaking in a condescending tone, or expressing an unpermitted impatience in our voice, we are filling our relationships with negative patterns that will only hurt us in the future.
Remember those times you said something hurtful, and you couldn’t take it back? Yeah, it’s probably best to try and avoid that happening again if you want to keep your loved ones around and if you don’t want to feel like an utterly shitty person.
So yeah, sometimes talking dirty is fun and maybe even a little sexy.
But when it comes to sustaining the relationships that matter, leave the trash talk where it belongs. Obviously, in the trash.
by Maria Borghoff