The word “Energy” by Betty Martin
I’ve been saying for years that the word “energy” was being used to avoid referring to something concrete, and to avoid self-responsibility. In my workshops and courses, I ask the attendees to avoid it for this reason. Suddenly I found this post on Betty Martin’s website: bettymartin.org. She explains it in a masterly way when asked about her request about not to use the word “energy” in her workshops and courses.
Betty Martin is an expert sex educator, Sexological Bodyworker and the creator of “The Wheel of Consent”: An essential concept for all of us who devote ourselves to body work and massage. Its web is a gift, which contains among other pearls, a simple version of this exercise, in many languages, which can change the way we touch and are being touched, as well as the concept of giving and receiving in any field.
This is her post:
Someone recently wrote to me, saying that they are working on their presentation for a conference (in Montreal!) and they had heard that in my classes I prefer people to not use the word “energy”, and asked if I would explain why. Word gets around, I guess – Montreal!
Here is what I wrote:
My goodness, gossip travels !
I understand the human body generates a biomagnetic field that people often call “energy” or ‘energy field’ and that many people do energy work as a healing method. I have given and received energy work many times.
The use of the word “energy” in conversation, however, has a few problems.
First, it is used in so many ways that I don’t know which meaning people are referring to, so I usually ask.
Second is that in my classes, I am helping people learn how to take more responsibility for themselves and their choices. What I notice is that the word “energy” is often used as a way to avoid saying something more direct.
‘Sexual energy is moving through my body’ – instead of – I feel turned on, or I feel warmth in my legs.
‘I have a lot of energy for that person’ – instead of – I like that person, or I feel turned on by that person, or I am afraid of that person, or I don’t like that person. or, when I’m around that person I get butterflies in my stomach.
‘The room is full of energy’ – instead of – I feel afraid, or I feel excited, or I feel turned on, or I notice that everyone seems excited.
‘You are putting out bad energy, or sexual energy, or needy energy’ – instead of – when you look at me without blinking I feel afraid, or when you lean in to me like that I feel sexual, or when I see your sad face I feel guilty.
And of course – ‘That person has bad energy’ – instead of – I don’t like that person, or I feel afraid around that person, or I feel confused around that person, or – that person looks dangerous and I suggest we leave.
Essentially, ‘energy’ keeps things vague enough to not have to face yourself.
Another problem is that when saying ‘energy’ you are talking in the third person. That is, about a thing, some force, instead of about yourself. It makes it easy to think that something is happening to you instead of acknowledging that there is something you feel, or notice, or choose.
So when people in my classes use the word I ask them what it is they are either trying to say, or trying to avoid saying. Or what they notice about themselves.
It’s also quite an interesting experiment to pretend for a few days that there is no such thing. Then what do you notice about yourself and what do you begin to take responsibility for?
I hope you enjoy your conference!
Translated by Jordi Oller