I use the word “soul” a lot when I’m working with clients. It dawned on me, that while I have a very clear understanding in my mind of what I’m referring to and why I’m choosing this particular word, I’ve never stopped to give myself an actual working definition. That I could actually write down. Or quote to a client: if they actually paused to ask me “just what do you mean, when you say soul?”.
Easy fix: jot down my definition so I have crystal clear vocabulary at the ready.
Okay. No probs: GO!
Okay, not so easy.
As I search for my “soul”, my first stumbling block is that I believe I have two distinctly different uses for the word: one I use with clients and one I use personally. Hypocritical?? Well, let’s see as this post progresses… I think you’ll understand that, given I work with a very diverse clientelle, I want to refrain from any upfront connection of the word soul to anything sounding remotely affiliated with “organized religion”. Simply put, it’s a respectful way to start out and make YOU feel safe as we get to know each other. Next, I’m cautious not to use the word soul in any way close to sounding “woo-woo”. While I vehemently oppose the mostly derogatory, arrogant, fear-mongering (but let’s get real: fear-FULL!) use of the term woo-woo, on what are for the most part, unexplored theories fully worthy of exploration, I do understand that soul-speak has been thrown around with some very alternative beliefs. I could make my job very difficult (and ineffective, really) if I don’t tippy-toe a little with my vocabulary: it’s my job to listen to you, my client, to hear your frame of reference for any terminology or phrasing that comes up; and then gear my words to how you will hear them best, regardless if your definition is miles from mine. If I’m unclear about your use of a word or concept, I ask for clarity – which invariably proves quite revealing, as clients pause to question if they actually know (and/or believe!) their own definitions! (“Clarity” is self-help magic: shhhh!) Clarification for the word soul, though, has never come up, funnily enough. I’ll take that to mean I’m doing my job well!! Little wins!
Now as a little aside: I do actually use the word woo-woo quite frequently – as do many doing this kind of work. The word to me (us) connotes “forward thinking”, and it’s been reclaimed in the self-development, psychology and wellness industries, among others, as light-hearted (perhaps a little “told-ya-so”) sarcasm: ribbing the skepticism of “crazy” ideas which are often dismissed out of ignorance and fear; and that have ultimately produced many positive game-changing and world-impacting results. I love world-renowned neuroscience-quantum physics geek, Dr. Joe Dispenza‘s viewpoint on this: “Science is the language to explain possibility”. Brilliant!!! Just when did we begin discriminating where this concept can be applied – or more pertinently: WHY?? All “credible” scientific developments started as blind woo-woo exploration; and guess what – some of that “credible” research has now been proven – wait for it: WRONG!! “Proof” of something is actually current working theory, not fact. With the rapid increase in tools available to measure and challenge past and present woo-woo theories more consistently (e.g. fMRI’s, 3D ultra-sound, hubble telescope)*, woo-woo and science are, rightfully, becoming one very quickly. Can’t wait to see what the future holds! Some of my fave woo-wooisms and woo-wooites:
-Copernicus, earth/sun rotation
-John Dalton, atomic theory, pffft
-Marconi, radio waves… leading to cell phones, Apple, you’re welcome… and while we’re here, computers were pure fantasy when I was a kid (but adorable in tennies!)
-a deranged William Harvey said blood circulates… say WAHHH!
-that insane Josiah Nott claimed bugs – BUGS! can carry disease to humans!!
-PMS is, hello, clearly mental “hysteria”!
-Dr. Damien Finniss, placebo research leading to more discriminatory use of pharma… because hey, guess what, maybe the human body came pre-loaded with self-healing mechanisms that we just haven’t given it credit for…yet!
-and please, burn ’em at the stake for even imagining test-tube babies or a man on the moon!!!
A lot of woo-woo has made YOUR life pretty fabulous – just what if those far-out thinkers succumbed to narrow-minded fear?! I’m holding the faith that people are finally coming around to blood circulation.
“Perhaps understanding how and why are the booby prize.”
-Rachel Naomi Remen (full quote/story)
Back to the soul search: maybe it would help me formulate my definition if I gathered some vocabulary from a few others. Good ‘ol Oprah to the aid….
READ ON: Oprah’s friends offer some perspectives on the term “soul”: will they meet my needs? Yours??