Did You Hear About it?

By: Jordan Smith, MA, LMFT

Everyone is talking about it! Did you hear? It’s on the Google News, Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter. People keep talking about it! It’s everywhere! It’s language. We are wired for language!


Harlene Anderson and Harry Goolishian,  contributors to collaborative language systems and social-constructionist ideas, highlight that our social world is created by people and reinforced by people. Simply put, we can’t know ourselves without being in relation to another person. That’s easy, right? I mean we are talking all the time! But, The truth is that what we talk about is often destructive.

Constructing a New Reality

This is how you form social truth and meaning:

  1. Externalization: Your world view is externalized into an objective reality by creating technology, institutions, businesses and cultural norms. Or, joining these man made realities.

  2. Objectification: Your objectified reality becomes meaningfully embedded into your language by institutional routines, generational patterns, and moral legitimation.

  3. Internalization: Then you internalize the outer world, which often defines who you are as an individual, by boxing you into stereotypes.

  4. Reification: We often forget that we have a huge role in the authorship of our own inner and outer social world. So, be different, find your own language.

So, how do we change our inner and outer dialogue? Find different conversations and change your inner dialogue.

Turning to people within your closed social network (i.e. family, friends, colleagues, etc.) often reinforces or even further perpetuates unhealthy ‘language systems’. So, connecting with others outside your social network (i.e. therapist), especially those with an unbiased view can give us the freedom to redefine our reality.

The therapy room is unpredictable, just as any conversation is. But, this space of uncertainty in the conversation leaves room for curiosity and exploring new territories of meaning and possibility. Therapist can challenge your reality by offering new questions and reflections, but you also need to talk.

Stop walking the same walk, and talk a new talk!