Tip: The word “really”

written November, 2003

University of Texas psychology professor James Pennebaker, PhD, in his bookOpening Up, makes an interesting observation about the many writing samples he has read for different psychological research:

“As an aside, a particular revealing word is ‘really.’ As in, “I respect my roomate, really.” Translated, this means “I don’t respect my roommate.”  Usually the word appears toware the beignning of an essay when the write is still holding back. In fact, worlds like “really” (or “honestly” and “truly”) often indicate inhibition. Once writers move into the let-go mode, these words rarely appears.

You might want to do a search of any of these words, “really,” “honestly,” or “truly” in your journal. Do you agree with Pennebaker’s note?