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Good Liz & The Importance of Positive Language

A few months ago, I was working on an editing project where the author was adamant about the passive voice. The piece dragged on and on as the girl didn’t “catch the ball” but rather “the ball was caught by the girl.” 

Little language switches like this can make or break a piece and as such I spend a lot of time thinking about them. I also spend a lot of time thinking about how the way we share ideas and stories can move society forward… or backward. 

I’m deeply aware of how the language I use in my day-to-day impacts how I feel. I’m conscious of the way words influence my perspective. I don’t “have to get groceries.” I get to go to the grocery store. And I genuinely love the grocery store. I’m not “just a writer.” I’m a writer. Full stop. I don’t believe in small acts of kindness. I believe a gift of kindness may be simple. But it is never small.

Recently, I was at breakfast with a friend, catching up on someone they’ve been seeing. I could feel my heart melting at the way their eyes lit up as they talked about this person and I asked them to dive more into the backstory. It was in passing, as part of this story, where they said, “their ex’s name is Liz. Yeah, I know. We call you Good Liz. So anyway…”

And immediately I clocked the language. This person’s ex and I share a name. But in talking about me or her, they don’t call the ex “Bad Liz.” They call me “Good Liz.” 

Regardless as to the situation with the ex, this simple act neutralizes them and rather than the default being “bad,” the default becomes good. 

What does it mean to default to the positive in the way we speak? To differentiate two people with the same name not by something dismissive or hurtful, but by something kind. 

What would it mean if we started taking every opportunity possible to default to kindness? To default to caring? To see the good, find the good, make the good in every situation? What would it do to our minds to lead with love?

What kind of beauty might we build?


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