One of the most profound things I ever heard anyone say was something my high school English teacher told us: "Language precedes thought." I had never heard anyone tell me that. I had never even thought about it. She went on to explain it to us by asking what language we dreamed in. Being English-speaking teenagers, we of course said English. She asked if we thought people who spoke French dreamed in English. This made me remember my mother, who is fluent in both English and Spanish, telling me how she used to dream in Spanish a lot and sometimes still does. It was a simple observation but for whatever reason it stuck with me.
Later on, when I started attending a Spiritualist development group, the leader said something that made me remember my English teacher's statement. She was trying to explain to us how the language we use can and will change the way we think, and therefore, the way we perceive ourselves and others. She asked us to try a simple exercise: not use profanity for a few weeks and see what happened. I tried her exercise, and I'll write more about that experience in part 2.
For now, I wanted to share another example of language influencing perception. My former mentor was a Lakota Yuwipi man. One day he was explaining why the Lakota language doesn't have a word for "love" that translates into the same meaning as "love" does in English. He informed me that their word for love also translated into a word for respect. You cannot love someone you do not respect.
I began to wonder how my romantic relationships would be different if I saw my feelings of love for my partners as a form of respect. Would my behavior change? Would theirs?
Later, I met a man who used the word "respect" as if it was synonymous with the word "fear." This was a man who had been abused as a child by his father, and grown up to be psychologically abusive and controlling himself. In his eyes, showing fear was showing respect. He believed if others feared him they would not hurt him, and not being hurt was being respected. How would his life have been different if he believed respect and love were synonyms?
How Long Does it Take to Heal?
if you are looking for a quick fix to a problem that has been going on for years, you are not going to find it. Anywhere. A shaman doesn’t offer quick fixes and magic pills. Even an allopathic (traditional western medicine) doctor won’t offer a quick fix,
The Shamanic Journey and Poetry
A nice "side-effect" of undertaking a shamanic journey on a regular basis is inspiration
The Power of Words Over Perception: Part 2
In my first post on this topic, I mentioned an exercise my development circle leader encouraged us to try. She asked us to try going a few weeks without using profanity. This post goes over a few observations I experienced during that time and since then.