Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Did you use your words Daniel Tiger?

Daniel Tiger is a cartoon spin-off of the well-known Mr. Rogers Neighborhood.  Daniel Tiger, his family, and friends live in the world of make-believe.  They tackle lots of life's everyday problems through connecting emotionally, using their words, compassion, and problem solving.

When Daniel Tiger gets mad or sad, Teacher Harriet says, "Did you use your words Daniel Tiger?"

Daniel Tiger spends a lot of time saying, "Grr!", instead of using his words to express how he feels and why.  My two year old daughter does the same, but actually, I do as well, at least on the inside.

I've been listening to Teacher Harriett a lot in my head lately.

Unlike Daniel Tiger, I say "Grr!" on the inside, not on the outside.  I spend a lot of time, unintentionally, using my silence as violence.  This means that when I'm angry with my wife, I harm her with my silence instead of using my words to say I'm angry and share with her why I'm angry.  I don't want to intentionally harm my wife (my intentions aren't the point here), but five minutes, five hours, or five days of holding in my anger harms my wife.

"Steven Dunham, did you use your word?" Asks Teacher Harriett?

"No, I got quiet," I say.

It is so easy to unleash our wrath through outbursts of verbal violence, contain our wrath with verbal silence, or any number of things to avoid the real issue, which is using our words to name our feelings and why. 

Ultimately, we have three basic choices: use our words, verbal violence, or silent violence.

"Did you use your words, Steven Dunham?"

I don't want to remain silent any more.

I want to use my words.

I'm angry, and this is why...
I'm sad, and this is why...
I'm elated!  And this is why...
I'm confused, and this is why...
The list goes on...

This photo was taken with permission from Isengardt at https://www.flickr.com/photos/isengardt/