In this Adventure, my task was to identify the use of filler words in my speech, and try to eliminate them. I’ve worked on this before in the past, and I didn’t think I used a lot of fillers, so I assumed it would be a short exercise.
I already knew I liked to open with “So…” and drag things along with “um…”
Then I heard myself say “like…” I didn’t know I still did that.
And so I extended this Adventure. Not using filler words is important to me, and I wanted to give myself more chances to observe and correct my speech.
It was interesting to listen to myself once I became aware of what I was saying. My speech would all of a sudden feel awkwardly slow as I tried to suppress the ums and likes, which I use to buy time for thinking. Not sure if it really was slow, or if it was just my overloaded brain perception.
I’ve heard more than one person say these filler words are a normal part of speech. Colloquially, they are, and most people don’t think anything of them if they’re not used in excess. But I find them to be a crutch, and think they weaken the message.
On day 7, I wrote, “Learn to be comfortable with silence.” This applies far beyond this exercise.
This exercise, however, is not solely about speech. It’s also about seeing “how entrenched our unconscious behaviors are.” The use of filler words is an unconscious habit, and like most unconscious habits, is quite difficult to change.
But there’s hope. Becoming conscious of this habit is the first step. And with continued mindfulness, it’s possible to work toward long term change.
I’m not done with this one, but I don’t need to pause here exclusively. I found with Leave No Trace that an exercise like this sticks with me even after I move on.
Elephant Adventure 4: Appreciate Your Hands *high five*