Exulansis: n. the tendency to give up trying to talk about an experience because people are unable to relate to it.
Do you ever have a feeling or an experience that you struggle to put into words?
This is something that happens to most of us. Whenever I experience it, I'm reminded of the importance and the limitations of language.
A person's experience of reality is dictated by the depth of language they have to describe it. As soon as I realized this, it has become something that is hard to unsee.
On a day-to-day basis, most of the phrases we use consist of cliches and conventions that help us efficiently complete our social interactions with one another. We sacrifice depth for utility. We water down our language to make it understandable to others, sometimes at the cost of true understanding and connection.
Of course, this makes sense to do, it would be cumbersome to go through every conversation with the pressure to make sure the other understood the depth and complexity of what you are experiencing.
I think the unfortunate cost of this habit can be lack of intimacy, confusion and loneliness when this superficiality characterizes our understanding of ourselves and the way we communicate with those we are close with.
What if we approached our conversations with the intent of finding just the right words to describe what you are trying to say and we knew we had found those words based on the "aha" feeling inside that we have when we experience epiphany?
How would our relationships be impacted if, when we shared these experiences, we felt that other person was truly understanding and empathizing with our unique inner experience?
This is an invitation to begin to think about how you communicate with others and a suggestion that there is an opportunity for deeper connection right now. The best place to start may be with the person if your life that you trust the most.
Of course, this is easier said than done. Increasing your ability to think and communicate in this way takes practice. Regardless, I believe that, by merely shifting your awareness and intention, you can start having more satisfaction in your relationships.
Focusing is a technique that helps people strengthen this ability to attune, understand and describe inner experience. For more information, watch this video of Eugene Gendlin, the founder of Focusing, introducing the process.
A great book about our relationship with language and how language is both grounded in our experience of the natural world and but can also disconnect us from it is David Abram's, The Spell of the Sensuous.
Below is fun exercise to get you thinking about experiences you may dismiss because you didn't know how to explain them.
Content was taken from Writing About Writing