Semantics is the study of meaning. As it concerns words (linguistic semantics), it is the study of meaning that is used by humans to express themselves through language.
Semantics have played a huge role in my journey so far (and just so you know, I am not overly fond of the word journey in this context, but sometimes it’s appropriate). Those who know me know that I have a visceral reaction to certain words. I cringe, rebel, resist, constrict when I hear them:
Do it anyway
And so it became important for me to choose words that help me be who I want to be, and to avoid words that work against me. It may sound silly to some, but this is my truth.
Take, for example, this quote by Luciano Pavarotti:
“People think I’m disciplined. It is not discipline. It is devotion. There is a great difference.”
In thinking about difference between discipline and devotion, being devoted sounds so much more appealing (to me) than being disciplined. I am devoted to my health and to my body.
Taking it a step farther, finding something to which I wanted to be devoted, something that lights me up (and fills me up), was a key component in weight loss. And here’s the funny part: that to which I am devoted to has nothing to do with losing weight (at least not directly). Being devoted to writing and speaking fills me up in a way that food never could.
I also want to share something that Michele, who writes at Healthy Cultivations, wrote about the difference between struggle and suffer because it illustrates how words and their meanings work for her.
I’ve written A LOT about not wanting to struggle. Years ago I realized that if I view anything as a struggle, then that’s what I’ll get. More struggle. I didn’t want weight loss to be a struggle.
Over time I have come to realize that some things are worth struggling for (understanding is a big one)…not to mention how good it feels to be on the other side of it. When I read Michele’s post, it helped me clarify that I’d rather avoid suffering.
That said, I’m still not a fan of the word struggle because nearly all of its definitions and synonyms relate to war. I have a big problem with using war analogies in relation to my body.
Are there certain words or phrases that don’t work for you? Have you come up with others that do?