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In this journey, words such as Must, Should, were examined in conversations. I learned about my sensitivity to these socially constructed words. I realized how difficult it was for me to become less sensitive to these words when they were used in interactions. I paid attention to and tried to soften my reactions to have a more understanding of people’s words…; such a difficult task!

People I walked with on the Camino were from different parts of globe. They all kindly tried to use English to communicate despite their discomfort to use English as a language of conversation. The word Must was used very often as a defining key to convey their messages. My reaction to the word Must was obligation and imposition and consequently withdrawing from communication …

After a couple of days of struggling and reflecting, i realized that the word Must was my trigger. I learned to view the word Must differently and put it into a much broader context; for instance, who uses it, why, with what purpose and intention… Soon after this discovery, my feelings of resentment and obligation changed to humor and laughter.

In this journey, my beliefs, including my understanding of words, changed. I further realized that words are medium of communication; their meanings have to be negotiated in relationship. When two people enter in relationship, they bring their own specific understanding/ meanings to relationship. If those understandings/ meanings are not negotiated, words will have destructive effects on each other.

Everything has to be examined and responded in its own context. Relationship has three parts; A, B, and AB. A is not alone in relationship; therefore, A’s meanings are not sufficient in making sense of what is exchanged in relationship. A and B need to be open to negotiation and arrive into shared meanings. This way both parties allow AB to form in a more reciprocal respectful and meaningful way!

Happy Possibilities,

Tahereh Barati, M.A, RMFT

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