The Attitude-Language Connection

I’ve been working for a long time on treating myself at least as well as I treat others. Think I’m about 80% there now. (sigh)

A couple of weeks ago I noticed how I describe the way I walk. I have arthritis in one knee, my spine, and my hips and so my gait changes with the changes in my joints. Right now I sway from side to side much more than I did before.

I found I called it “waddling.” That doesn’t sound very nice. The least I could do is say I walk with a limp. It’s just as accurate but, at least to my ears, it doesn’t sound deprecating. I wouldn’t say anybody else waddled, so why should I describe myself that way?

Dictionaries often give us a new look at familiar words. Didn’t tell me anything I didn’t already know about waddling. So I looked up lazy, because that’s how I think of myself these days. Lazy, to me, denotes somebody who doesn’t want to do things, who lounges around all day-dreaming and resists lifting a finger if it can be avoided.  But whoa, is that really me?

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines lazy as “1. disinclined to activity or exertion: not energetic or vigorous; 2.  moving slowly.” Does this describe me? Well, yes, all but the disinclined bit. I move slowly and don’t do a lot because I have a disability and moving hurts. I also think we all slow down with age. But “disinclined?” No way! I  constantly wish I could do more and I push myself hard.

I need an adjective that says in one word, “I can’t do what I used to, and it really bothers me.” Aging comes closest, but then I think of a 75-year-old man I know who still skis and shovels snow. He complains about politics, not his body. For now, I’ll have to live without that word and just try and carry the attitude around in my head as an antidote to “lazy.”

You see, our language is formed by our attitudes and if we change one, we can change the other. It’s like that mind-body connection — attitude-language connection. If I think of myself as beautiful, I will take the time to comb my hair, stand up straighter,  and make sure my clothes look good together. The net result is, even if I can’t make myself really beautiful, I’ll look a lot better! And if I fuss lovingly over my appearance, I will start to think of myself as pretty.

One caveat: this doesn’t work if you are trying to deny reality. Most of us probably tried to act as if we had a normal childhood, and we didn’t get very far. Smiling to hide depression doesn’t work, either – it just makes it worse. And acting as if you don’t have an addiction, when you do, is a guaranteed disaster.

What I am talking about is those areas that are not black and white. I’m not going to be transformed or destroyed if I consider myself old instead of lazy or pretty instead of ugly. I’m just going to be a smidgen happier. And isn’t that worth it?