The Department of Redundancy Department
I have something of a reputation when it comes to words. What, that I always know just what to say? That I’m prolific and insightful? Nope. It’s more like… there’s nothing that can be said in 15 words that I can’t turn into a 1,000-word block of text.
I’m loquacious. Verbose. Not prone to self-editing. Pick your adjective or descriptive phrase; basically, I like to Make With Many Words, and—as a person who also Has Many Feelings—I often have more than the strictly-necessary number of words to share on any given topic, because this is how I not only express myself, it’s often how I process things.
(Do not get me started on that whole thing about learning that different people process in different ways. When I’m processing, I’m talking or writing. When my husband is processing, stuff is happening inside his head where no one can see it. I think that’s weird, but apparently it’s normal. Whatever.)
In my younger days, there was no topic about which I didn’t natter on endlessly, if it held some sort of interest for me. So if, say, you liked pie and I liked pie, hooray, we could talk about pie together for hours! Yay! But if I liked pie and you didn’t, I might still talk about pie a lot, and that would maybe not be so great for you. Worse still, if there was that one time that you dropped a perfectly good pie on the floor, chances are I would bring that up, too, perhaps even multiple times. Point being: Words are good, sure, but they can be used in plenty of not-good ways.
Now that I’m, ahhh, a bit older (shush), time and experience have taught me that yes, Virginia, sometimes discretion really is the better part of valor. Not everything needs to be said. Not everything needs to be said repeatedly. Words do have power, and that power is best administered thoughtfully
So: does that mean I never utter a thoughtless word? Sadly, no; I’m still human, and still have my moments where I find my foot crammed into my mouth entirely by accident. But I’ve learned to, for the most part, be much more careful with my words. And it was absolutely a lesson I needed to learn.
The lesson I find myself grappling with these days, though, is one that almost (almost!) feels counterintuitive, after all these years of trying to shut myself up. The thing is, once I came to understand it, I realized that it doesn’t run counter to the notion of being careful what you say, not really.
Here it is: If it’s worth saying, it’s worth saying often. I’ve spent what feels like most of my lifetime, learning to not say everything that occurs to me. Heh. And now as life marches on and my kids are growing up and my perception of the world is changing—shifting, kind of bringing new things into focus, as it were—I’m realizing that my rules for speaking/writing need tweaking again. The stuff that’s important bears repeating.
Not important: Please pick up your towel off the floor.
Important: I love you.
Not important: Why don’t you ever remember that I don’t like mushrooms?
Important: I feel lucky that I get to hang out with you.
Not important: Is your homework done?
Important: It makes me really happy when I see you being so kind.
Get the idea? I think that when I started learning to curtail what came out of my mouth, I also somehow came to believe that repetition in any form was “bad.” It’s not that I don’t say nice things to my family or whatever, but that I’d come to believe that if my daughter rolled her eyes or my son said, “I know, Mom, geez” that probably I was saying it too much. And it’s been fairly liberating to discover that when it comes to the positive, life-affirming stuff, there is no “saying it too much.”
No one gets tired of hearing that they are loved. No one dislikes hearing about what they’ve done well. And when we reaffirm these things out loud, it’s a little gift both to the listener and the speaker. When I say these things I am reminded that I am lucky, and if the target of my affection rolls her eyes or shrugs his shoulders, well, too bad. Somewhere deep in those scrambled teenage brains, the steady message of “you are loved” is being received.
Don’t bite back the good and encouraging things you want to say, just because you feel like it’s “too much.” There’s no such thing! This is one way in which being redundant will truly make you (and those around you) feel more better.
Do you say what you want to or do you feel like you’ve pulled back from doing so? Will you try to say every nice thing that occurs to you for a week? I swear you’ll love being redundant!