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Be precise in your speech

“Precision specifies. When something terrible happens, it is precision that separates the unique terrible thing that has actually happened from all the other, equally terrible things that might have happened-but did not,” (Peterson, p.280).

Much of Dr. Peterson’s aforementioned rule was laid out in in a specific scenario, of which we can apply to numerous other confrontations we may encounter in life. In his analogy, a wife finds her husband, the stalwart, hard-working man of decades, with another woman downtown at a restaurant. The husband is unaware of her most unfortunate discovery and the rest of the chapter unfolds both reminiscent of how this “hellish” reality had come to be and what this very woman would do next.

It is obvious that this type of marital demise didn’t happen overnight. What kind of conversations could have previously occurred if either party had addressed what seemed like minor inconveniences or idiosyncrasies instead of tossing them up under the “assumption” category? Beyond marital unfaithfulness, what types of interpersonal dynamics could have been forged in a positive light if either husband or wife took a big bite of courage and confronted the beast?

I’m going to be honest with you: I’m pretty new to this whole marriage thing. Being wed on May 24th, 2020 doesn’t exactly make Bec and I, seasoned vets by this point. But, one thing that we had noticed in relationships close to us, was an inability to effectively communicate one’s heart/desires. We established early on what kind of posture and verbiage needed to be used in our own lives if we wanted to avoid little things growing and growing to the point of what Dr. Peterson calls a “dragon under the rug.” And even though, we decided that every potential conflict needed to be discussed with humility, that doesn’t mean that it’s good once and for all. I daily need to check my pride and ego at the door.

This transcends marriage dynamics, as well. Let’s compare any type of relationship to going to the gym. Knocking out 3×10 on the Bench Press and one set of curls won’t make you look like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Consistency (and intentionality within that) reign supreme. The same is true in relationships, marital or otherwise. If we fail to address the little areas that don’t align, they grow: “All…we-must do to ensure such an outcome is nothing: don’t notice, don’t react, don’t attend, don’t discuss, don’t consider, don’t work for peace, don’t take responsibility…just wait, anything but naïve and innocent, for the chaos to rise up and engulf you instead,” (Peterson, p. 274-275).

Perhaps there are some conversations that you’re discovering that need to be had within your inner circle. I can’t think of a better time to have them! It’s 2020, for crying out loud: a year where we have an opportunity to stop the normal pace of life, listen, reflect, learn, grow.

No one is saying these will necessarily be easy. But isn’t confronting the known, so much better than living in ignorance of what could be defused in minutes? “Often what cannot be confronted because of its horror in imagination can in fact be confronted when reduced to its-still-admittedly terrible actuality…courages and truthful words will render your reality simple, pristine, well-defined and habitable,” (Peterson, p. 280-281).

If you decide to do this, this week…congratulations! I am supporting you from afar! Apply the rules we have learned so far and approach it in humility: “Say what you mean, so that you can find out what you mean…Note your errors. Articulate them. Strive to correct them. That is how you discover the meaning of your life…Be precise in your speech,” (Peterson, p. 282-283).

Until next time,

-Brock Baumgarn, CA, Nutrition Consultant, Health 1st Chiropractic


Peterson, J.B., Doidge, N., &Van, S.E. (2018). 12 rules for life: An antidote to chaos.

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