Being Insecure and Linguistic Relativity

I take it all in. I can’t help it. You probably can’t either. I absorb it all. I hear how people talk about me, be it good or bad. I pick up on how you feel towards me. I notice the small subtleties of how you treat everyone slightly differently based on your unique relationship with them. There’s an unquantifiable human sense that allows us to pick up on subtle behavioral changes, micro-emotions and tone. It helps us to adapt to situations, evaluate our behavior and adjust accordingly. This facet of human psychology is called insecurity. It’s not an enjoyable experience, but it is one that is universal to everyone, and is therefore required to maintain normal function and socialization.

There doesn’t exists a person without insecurity. It hasn’t ever happened. It’s possible, and fairly easy, to behave in ways the suggests you have none or very few. It’s easy to hide yourself behind the public version of yourself. We all do it. And so, with that in mind, it’s important to remember that how we talk about the people around us, or towards them, can have consequences.

I’ve always believed or known that language, how we use it, is important to how we think. It alters how we think and so, the words we choose are signs of how we think. This is called linguistic relativity. Our use of language affects how our minds think about what we are talking about. This is mostly subconscious of course, but if we learn to observe our word choice we can literally perceive how our thought patterns make us arrive at our personal opinion about people, groups and ideas.

If you look at this in reverse, you can understand how an individual thinks about a certain person or thing by the way they talk about it. This may not be a direct, or explicit set of words, but you can usually understand how a person feels by observing the unified style of their speech. We all know when one person doesn’t like another, even though person A might always be nice to person B, and never say a bad word about them. Yet we can still pick up on the subtle nuances of speech, which helps us to recognize their true intention and thoughts.

This ties into insecurities by means of this subconscious ability to pick up on subtle speech and communication features. Acting nice and actually enjoying someone are two completely different things, and this becomes apparent unconsciously in how we speak. This is even goes as far as text messages. You’ve no doubt been in a position of texting where somehow, in some inexplicable way, the ‘vibe’ or atmosphere changes and you don’t feel like the person wants to talk anymore, but you have no actual evidence of this. It’s a quality rather than a quantifiable thing.

This makes me think that maybe some insecurities aren’t just over-thoughts, or self-esteem problems. Maybe some of them are subconscious knowledge derived from the subtleties of conversation that we can’t really measure but we know are there. We use language so much and so naturally that I think we forget that it is literally the foundation on which our entire lives and relationships are built. Language is important and how you use it not only affects how you think, but also the people around you.

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