Lindy with a why – Why the problem is the crutch word

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My husband sandwiches many a pair of ideas with “the problem is…” Sometimes it’s used in places where there is a serious problem; “Sure we have the most votes in Nelson Mandela Bay, the problem is securing a stable coalition partner” and sometimes not so serious; “I really want a sandwich, the problem is, I can’t find any clean knives”

Now, my lackadaisical dish- washing skills aside, must we find problems in every sentence we speak? Don’t get me wrong – I love a good problem — but I see most of them in an ‘opportunity dressed up as a problem’ sort of way. If someone posted me a box of manure, I would just assume they forgot to pack the pony.

Optimism can be annoying, and even frightening for people who like to pepper the word problem liberally into most conversations. In fact, this week at work I have (lovingly) been called both a schmuck and a Pollyanna for my annoyingly bright- side-of-life ways, so it’s not just my husband who thinks that I’m crazy. And since he is a fantastic problem solver, I guess the word isn’t affecting his work life much. I can just be thankful that life isn’t a drinking game with the word ‘problem’ as the word of choice, as I would be unable to legally drive myself anywhere ever again.

These words we repeat subconsciously throughout our daily lives are called crutch words, they provide room to pause while we think, or come out as force of habit and they don’t do much to add anything meaningful to our messages. Words like; actually, basically, in a weird way, um, at the end of the day, for what it’s worth, seriously, honestly, my middle child’s favourites — always and never, apparently, literally, it is what it is, the problem is — which do you use? Which do your friends use? Let’s for a minute pretend that the words we choose as crutches say something about what we are really thinking. This may or may not be true, but I bet your next conversation is going to be a bit awkward while you try to figure out what you may be inadvertently telling people. Let’s not even get into your body language…

Surely the words we repeat constantly throughout the day have an effect on us. I like to think positive words create positive environments. We want to surround ourselves with things that are beautiful, so we should want to surround ourselves with words that are beautiful too. And before you think I am totally insane, please know that when I do this exercise, the words I create to surround myself with include expletives and food themes as much as words of encouragement. I just feel the good words should be in there somewhere.

If you can’t be nice to you then why should anyone else be?

Do you have any words you use a little too much? Positive or negative. I am sure I have a word I say so much that it reveals the inner workings of my mind. For my husband, the problem is that he doesn’t have a column in which to write about it.

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