Let’s look at all the words that go together with “up”. For example, wake up or step up.
What is interesting about this word game, is when making a specific list of phrases that end in “up”, you can begin to see that the feelings they evoke are quite different.
Word choices showing aggression might include: hang up, beat up, or shut up. Hurt feelings, frustration or anger most likely will be the result when used.
Slip up or mess up provides us with reasons why something happened evoking sympathy from others. This feeling could change to frustration or anger if used too many times.
Put up can have two different meanings and emotions attached to it. You might say that you put up the shelving unit giving you a sense of accomplishment. It made you happy to finish putting up the shelving unit.
Or you could tell someone “put up or shut up” demanding someone to work to fix what they are complaining about or be silent and not criticize any more. When heard, it may hurt your feelings or anger you.
Other word choices can be gentle reminders, thoughtful nudges, or even have a tone of positivity to them: sit up, wake up, lift up, step up, move up, or level up. They all imply that something good may come from doing what they say. They are combinations of words shared for our benefit.
But don’t be fooled. Said with the wrong tone of voice and these gentle nudges can become irritable demands that can annoy rather than help.
The word up, by itself, provokes images of ladders, escalators, elevators, and promotions at work. The imagery of ascent surrounds the word up. These images of “up” are used often to denote progress and success.
Yet as you see, paired with the wrong word or used too many times and “up” loses its positive imagery quickly. Transforming itself into something negative, hurtful or evoking anger.
Life move’s too fast for us to always think through what the feeling that our choice of words will convey. Feelings that go beyond the literal meaning of the words spoken.
In the end, it’s the feelings that our choice of words invoke, that makes our choice of words so important. How we felt in a conversation, lasts much longer than its content within us. Both for us as well as the recipient.
Especially when it is important for us to communicate clearly, without losing our message in a quicksand of emotion that we did not anticipate along the way.