Un-Mindful Communication: The Fallacy of Using “I”.

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We have all heard the advice, use “I” when talking about your feelings.

The idea behind this is to be responsible for your own feelings. When you say “I feel….”or “I think…”, you are supposedly owning your thoughts, feelings, opinions instead of making them someone else’s responsibility.

This advice has been around since the self-help era began. Like all of these kinds of ideas, they have a lot of truth, but are presented in a woefully oversimplified manner and are often misused.

Owning your feelings using “I” has no meaning because you can wield “I”….as a weapon just as effectively as saying, “you are a…” (feel free to fill in the blank).

Consider these examples:

I think you are a Jerk! Pretty much the same poison as saying, “You are a jerk”.

Or, I think you are annoying!

I think you should just shut-up!

I think you are acting like a brat!

Confession here…the above statement has been used by me in my wild and wooly past towards my kids. They may have been acting in a way that I did not approve, but not the best way to handle the situation.

How many of you have had “I” be used as a weapon against you or have done so yourself especially during times of stress?

You may have gotten in trouble at work if you let lose like that.

Or your team’s morale may be in the tank. And you will lose good people.

You will have seen the look in your child’s eyes when spoken to in that way. And the argument just escalates into a power struggle leaving your child feeling shamed and you feeling ashamed and exhausted.

Perhaps you have had this type of exchange with your partner and the ability to truly engage and empathize with each other’s position is gone. The moment for resolution gets thrown away. The words are out there between you two, and the damage is done.

And almost just as bad, you may be feeling these things, but you don’t say anything! Because you know that if you say something, it will come out Just. Like. That.

Meantime, your insides are churning with anger and resentment of things left unsaid.

These toxic beliefs–I say they are beliefs–because it is not the feelings that are toxic, but the beliefs around these feelings that can be, and they can make you ill.

Because anger, frustration, hurt, sadness, disappointment…all are normal and important signals that something has to change.

However, if left unsaid–can become like food rotting–poisonous as well.

So, in the heat of the moment, most of us will go back to what we know and what we have learned.

Looking at your triggers, your beliefs in order to truly own your feelings needs to be an ongoing process. so that when an intense situation hits, you can step back and speak with intention—not out of reaction.

Otherwise, you will continue to own up to believing that everyone else is wrong.

Sharon Burris-Brown is a holistic health coach who specializes in helping working parents carve out time for the people and pursuits they love. If you would like to schedule a FREE strategy call to get clear on the best next step for you, click here. If you have not joined my FREE Facebook group: Stress Release for Working Parents, click here. 

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