I often write about the power of words, especially the ones that we use without thinking too much about them. This one is a bit different. I am a proud attendee of therapy sessions and in them, I’ve been learning that I place a lot of value on words. More specifically, I place so much value on words that I often don;t think I can rise to their greatness. Let me explain.
I was having a very positive and pleasant conversation with my psychiatrist last week when he said to me, “I’d like to point something out to you. When we met you told me that your job was to give online lessons in English as a second language to kids in China. Just now you told me that you used to be a teacher. Why are your words so different? Why don;t you say that you’re a teacher now?” That question, though objectively simple, crushed me. He helped me realize how much of myself I had identified as the teacher persona and how I no longer feel that I am part of that elite group. I, of course, started off by explaining away the reasons I chose my words. As a good doctor, he asked me if he would be any less a psychiatrist if he did his therapy in a Skype session. I pointed out the ten reasons that just wasn’t the same thing. He asked me to boil down what it is I do in a simple sentence, an “I” statement, even. It took me a long time. All I could think of was, “I teach.”
All I could think of was, “I teach.”
“Yeah,” he told me. “You teach. You are a teacher. A part time teacher? Sure. But you still teach. You’re still a teacher. And maybe you need to start recognizing that you are one.”
So simple. Such an immense challenge. I started to think about the other words that have this much power, the other words that define me. I encourage you to do the same. Examine them. Get comfortable with them. And if you discover that one of them is not ok, maybe it’s time to change.