My oldest two children are 4 and 3 now, and this summer has been a blast in terms of communication. My three-year old’s language exploded in May (after about 2 months of shitty sleep patterns! ah hah! Mystery solved!) and he is now a chatty little guy, stringing sentences together.
They are listening and soaking up everything around them like a sponge. They are practicing all of these new words, in new combinations, with new inflections in their voices. Words are being placed together into sentences, like their lego blocks into towers.
Do you remember taking language classes as a kid, and once you had the hang of a sentence you’d learn a slang word or a new word to put in to add some ‘style?’ But when you added that slang word, you kind of felt odd and waited to see how it landed with other people?
I think it’s the same for toddlers, they add in newly acquired words, look around and wait to see if it has landed with someone. Then, their little brains either file away for use again, or they discard it if it comes with shock and horror on part of the parents (like the first time my little man dropped an F-bomb.)
It got me reflecting on our own speech.
When we experience a thought in our mind that we want to put out there, it’s an interesting process.
We have a thought. In six hundred miliseconds, we push air through our vocal chord, and shape with our mouths, in the process giving life and existence to that thought. Researchers were only able to track this process for the first time in 2009.
(Don’t even get me started on what a ‘thought’ is, lol that keeps me up at night.)
It is very true that we “speak” things into existence. Noone knows what we are thinking about, until we decide that it is worth bring from the brain, through the vocal chords and into our mouth where our anatomy forms consonants and vowels.
There are specific things we can do with speech:
We can ask for something (request) “hey could you do me a favour?”
We can offer something “I’d like to have you over next week.”
We can promise something ” I will run that race with you.”
We can declare something “today I am going to show up and crush it!”
We can judge something “She is too stressed.”
We can describe something “She has a frown on her face.”
I love to listen to people conversing – at coffee shops, book stores, or even on transit. It’s fun to start noticing which of the above speech acts they use.
You’d be so surprised how unconscious people are of their speech patterns, yet, it reveals so much about them.
The same goes for your own children, what kind of speech acts above do they use?
Asks: “Can you get me the purple cup please?”
Just kidding, my toddlers use declarations instead of requests: “I WANT THE PURPLE CUP.”
Descriptions: “Mommy your legs are spiky!” (usually in a public place with many witnesses ;0) )
Just as we have streams of consciousness (thinking,) we have streams of speech. It is cool to watch the stream of speech coming out of someone.
Do they make declarations? “This is a beautiful day and I am going to enjoy it!”
Do they live in judgement? “She should have done this, and she should have done that and look at that dress and no, I didn’t like that lunch, it was too spicy, and it was busy there, and ugh, it’s just so hot out today. Do you think this is too much (waving at their clothing) ” – by the way, this sentence is longer for a reason. Judging is a real bad habit for us humans.
You can also start to discern whether someone speaks from a place of expansion, openness and positivity? Or – unpleasantly – closed, negative, and fixed.
So here is my question for you:
When someone has just given you air time by asking you about your summer, or day,
When someone has said, “I want to listen to you.”
What do you return with? What is your habit of speech? What is worth putting out there into the world out of all those conversations floating up there in your mind?
It is estimated we think about 40,000 thoughts a day. Which ones are worth taking out, pushing through the vocal chords, and forming in the mouth, to share with another human being?
Because what you speak, you speak into existence.
Your future isn’t here yet, but it arrives when you speak about it and make it real.
So with that airtime – Are you going to speak of other people and gossip? Is other people what you are going to focus your air-time on? Are you going to speak about everything you enjoy and are looking forward to this summer? Are you going to speak into existence “oh nothing is new?”
Words are sacred.
Can we gain awareness – a pause – a sacred moment – before our thoughts make their way to our vocal chords?
Perhaps by practicing that pause, we can light up the areas of the brain + the speech pathways – that prefer growth, expansion, optimism and hope.
Perhaps those newly expanded areas will reflect in our speech patterns.
What do we want to speak into existence as we make offers, promises, requests or declarations?
So the next time someone asks “how has your summer been?” “Anything coming up?” – take that pause.
Where do you want your life to go? Declare it.