I get tickled when people say “I’m switching hats for this project” or “I’m putting on my business hat for this one!” Right away I envision a hat rack in motion, turning on a lazy Susan, displaying a derby, beret, turban, top hat, baseball cap, and fez. Each hat would be assigned to a role that we fulfill in life.
The hat analogy works, and here’s my second favorite analogy: Language.
During the course of a day, at any point, I may jump around these different communication modes:
Therapist-speak– This sounds like understanding or moving in the direction of understanding. It’s gentle, grounded, stable, and calm. It’s expression is that of connection, problem-solving, and serving.
Rhythm-speak– Sometimes this sounds like organized patterns in a defined space. Sometimes syncopated, sometimes straight. And other times, totally ambient with absolutely no structure. My rhythm-speak brings up old memories or introduces something totally new.
Significant-Other-speak– This sounds like helping and being helped, supporting and being supported. It’s an even exchange and full of caring. It’s witnessing and being witnessed. It can be fun and playful or deep and serious.
Friend-speak– This language is fun, exciting, playful, and happy. Oftentimes, this language is filled with deep discussion of the big picture of life. Also, it’s supportive and comforting.
Family-speak– This sounds like deep caring and deep connection, even when the words sound frivolous. The depth is always there. Lots of colorful emotions involved in this language.
All these languages have some commonalities, but the one that sticks out in my mind the most is IMAGINATION. I spend a lot of time pretending, visualizing, and imagining my most ideal relationships. It takes energy, time, and creative power, and I’m very specific about the details of the pretend relational interactions. As I spend mental energy in the creative, imaginary space… the relationships I imagine start coming true in real life.
It’s crazy. But it’s real.
And I feel freer to express my desires about the relationship when I’m visualizing as well. We’ve got nothing to lose. Life is short.
What kind of languages do you speak day-to-day?