Active voice.

We have not passed that subtle line between childhood and adulthood until we move from the passive voice to the active voice–that is, until we stop saying, “It got lost.” and say, “I lost it.” ~ Sidney J. Harris

I lost my husband.  I lost my marriage.  I lost the future I expected to have.

Every once in a while I read something that hits me between the eyes and tells me something about myself.  Using the active voice gives me a great deal more power than I have when I write in the passive.  I have been conscious of that in my writing for years.  (I even programmed Word to alert me when I use passive voice.)  For those too young to remember him, Sydney J. Harris was a journalist.  That means, of course, that he knew all about writing in the active versus the passive voice.  But his quote above tells me that he had learned to apply it to his life and his attitude about life.  That’s what I want to do.  What must I do in order to accomplish this goal?

When I say things such as: “I was dumped by my ex.” or “My marriage was sabotaged by my ex and his sweetie.”, I am portraying myself as a victim.  I am not claiming the power that is rightfully mine.  I’ve started to think of it as a type of  negative self-talk and it has to go.  Even though those passive statements are true, stating them that way is not helpful any longer.  Was I a victim?  Yes.  Am I now a victim?  Absolutely not.  Nor will I ever be again if I can remember to be active, powerful and assertive.

I talk to myself all the time now that I live alone.  Sometimes in my head and sometimes aloud.  I have recently become aware that the things I say to myself are often not very complimentary.  I intend to stop it.  I deserve good things and kind talk.  And so do you.


21 thoughts on “Active voice.

  1. Oh that active voice inside me, longing to get out! Loved this post and have loved you since 4th grade when your daughters became my best friends. So grateful thatIi can connect with you this way, but would love to connect in real life too. XO from Guess Who…


  2. Great post, Pat! The wise words of wisdom apply across the spectrum for anyone dealing with many of life’s situations. (I do remember Sydney J. Harris and may still have some yellowed copies of his columns tucked away somewhere.)


  3. coming to terms with a new situation and the questions it asks about you is incredibaly difficult and I have so much admiration for your dignity and strength of character in this situation.


  4. I’ve been where you are, but found that although something precious to me was lost, there were so many great adventures and possibilities for me as a “mature” single woman. Celebrate each day, recite some positive thoughts in the morning before you get out of bed (ala “The Secret”), and know in your heart that you have so much to give AND recieve!


    • Thanks for your comment, Live with Breast Cancer. I see more and more every day the possibilities open to me which weren’t when I was married. And thanks for your sound advice. I found myself giggling one morning recently just as I was getting out of bed. I couldn’t help thinking about how far I’ve come in a fairly short time.


  5. Yes you did. You had a part that gave you your power back, along with dignity and respect.
    You may not have chosen to divorce, (or rather chosen for the affair), but you chose to respect yourself, you chose not to be wronged by any man (including your own husband), and you chose to accept nothing less than 100%.


  6. This is a very strong message Pat and so true. We do tend to make ourselves the victim by stating passively how something happened to us e.g. his affair ended our marriage. I learned that the other way of looking at it is by realizing that you had a choice: to stay in the relationship and turn a blind eye or not. Obviously you decided that infidelity was unacceptable, you weren’t willing to allow it. So you could say that you were the one who ended the marriage. You had the choice and the power.
    I hope that made sense.


  7. Thank you, Penny. Good luck with NLP. That’s not an acronym I know. What does it mean?

    Photo is a hydrangea in my daughter’s yard. She’s an awesome gardner and plant expert.


  8. I agree with Brenda. This is a very powerful voice you are now using and it has made me stop and think Pat. I’m just about to go and do a course in NLP – have you heard of it? It looks at just what you have described – how language and the way we use it can influence our lives but you have summed it up perfectly here for me! Love your photo too.


  9. This just might be the most powerful post you’ve done so far; incredibly good advice for all of us. This shows your tremendous growth, and I just hope I can get there someday. Thank you Pat.


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