Tuesday, March 08, 2011

Say This, Not That: an interactive post

You've probably seen Eat This, Not That!, the book that shows how simple food swaps can result in better health.

The book doesn't demonstrate the obvious (plain nonfat yogurt is better for you than a hot fudge sundae? Who knew?!). Rather, it shows how two restaurant items that look equivalent can contain vastly different calorie counts, as well as saturated fat and sodium levels, and how a little education and extra care can make a huge difference. (Really huge. Check out the preview — some of the comparisons are amazing.)

And now, walk with me into the strange inner workings of my mind:

The other day, I was chatting with a couple of friends when the topic of dumb things people say when someone's hurting came up.

We've all done it — said something insensitive when a friend is grieving, given a pat answer to one struggling with infertility — said exactly the wrong thing to someone, inadvertently causing them more pain. It might be that we're uncomfortable with others' suffering, or it might be that we just don't know what to say.

Enter Say This, Not That. Like the pairs of restaurant dishes featured in Eat This, Not That!, two statements can seem somewhat similar, and the intent is the same — but the effect is very, very different.

As with Eat This, Not That!, a little education and extra care to Say This, Not That can make a huge difference.

And that's where you come in.

  • Instead of "At least he's not in pain anymore" or "She's gone to a better place," say... what?
  • Instead of "Let me tell you about my miracle baby" or "You can always adopt," say... what?

Tell me your Say This, Not That ideas in the comments (or send them via the contact form), and I'll publish them in a future post. I've used grief and infertility as examples, but your Say This, Not That ideas can be about any struggle, especially one you've been through.

The Book of Proverbs says the tongue has the power of life and death (Prov. 18:21). I figure if people can be shown more uplifting options, we might choose to Say This, Not That.

And we'll all be better for it.



  1. "I'm sorry for your loss" is socially acceptable. I've found that for me, the temptation is to say too much. "I'm so sorry" and a hug is usually more redemptive than a lot of words the other person isn't in a position to hear.

  2. Anonymous10:43 PM

    When you're at a wedding, please don't ask your single friends, "When's it going to be your turn?" or offer to them the phone number of someone else who may be single. It's annoying, and it makes us feel small. Or, at the very least, it makes us feel inferior and may, for the truly neurotic, make us wonder if God is doing anything with our smaller single lives.

    Instead, ask a question that makes us feel like you're interested in us, in who we are, independent of who we may be dating. If you don't know us, break the ice by asking about the ceremony or the table decor or even how we know the people who are getting married (there's an idea!). If you do know us, then for crying out loud, act like you know us and ask about the things you know about - work, school, pets, baseball, whatever. Because when you ask about who we're spending Saturday nights with or when we're getting married, it seems very much like you don't actually care about us, about the things that set us apart and make us unique and that give value to life. Personally, if you see me at a wedding, you should ask about my youth girls (they're awesome!) or baseball (Go Tribe!) or my work as a therapist (Go Freud!) - because talking about these things will give you a picture of who I am.

    And to the people at weddings I've attended who've offered phone numbers of guys they know who are also single, thank you for loving me enough to want my life to be full of love, but please stop. It's full, I promise!


All comments are moderated by the blog's author prior to publication.