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By Chandrama Anderson

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About this blog: About this blog: I am a LMFT specializing in couples counseling and grief and have lived in Silicon Valley since 1969. I'm the president of Connect2 Marriage Counseling. I worked in high-tech at Apple, Stanford University, and in ...  (More)

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"I" Statements that are Actually "You" Statements

Uploaded: Apr 23, 2021
No, that's not a typo. I hear these a lot when I encourage partners to use "I statements" or to share how s/he is feeling. Here are examples of what to skip, and what to try:

Skip:
I feel YOU are angry at me.
I feel like this is a . . . (these are thoughts vs. feelings)
I think YOU aren't listening.
YOU made me feel like I don't matter.

Try:
I feel nervous. What are you feeling?
I feel misunderstood.
I feel unheard.
I feel unimportant.

What's the difference; why does it matter?

There is nothing to argue with when you use an actual "I statement" because it just is how you feel in that moment. What, are you going to answer, "No, you don't feel unheard,"? I hope not. In order for there to be a sticking point, there has to be a hook to get caught on (think Velcro). Velcro needs a rough and smooth pair in order to stick. When you simply state your feeling, you are a smooth surface.

No one wants to be told "You this" or "You that." So your partner is more likely to listen to you.

Of course one's impulse to justify is often stronger than our desire to listen. Check in with yourself (not your partner) in this regard.

So, use I statements, and then reflect back what you heard (which is the only place for YOU statements).
You hear: I feel nervous. What are you feeling?
You Say: Oh, you're nervous. I'm feeling agitated.
You hear: I'm feeling agitated.
You Say: Oh, you're agitated. Will you tell me about that?
You hear: I feel misunderstood.
You Say: You feel misunderstood. What is important that you want me
to understand?

Do you get the idea? It's slow, maybe you even think it's cheesy. However, it works. So experiment for yourself, and let me know how it goes.
We need your support now more than ever. Can we count on you?

Comments

 +  Like this comment
Posted by THOMAS D COLEMAN, a resident of Castlewood,
on Apr 27, 2021 at 11:03 am

THOMAS D COLEMAN is a registered user.

Thanks for the useful, practical how-to article on better relating to others. We can all do better and sometimes simple straightforward techniques as you propose are worth their weight in gold.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Apr 27, 2021 at 7:25 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

You're welcome, Thomas.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by esea, a resident of another community,
on Apr 28, 2021 at 5:37 pm

esea is a registered user.

I fully agree with the comments the writer made about a person using I messages when they are expressing their feelings to another person. The other side of the coin is that it is very important we quiet our minds, when we are listening to the speaker. We need to take a deep breath, and let intruding thoughts fade away so we can be in the moment with the speaker. We should try to be truly interested in learning more from the other person about their views. And we need to be willing to explore the possibility that another person's views are as valid as ours, without necessarily totally giving up on our own perspective. Jack Hamilton - Cupertino


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Chandrama Anderson, a Almanac Online blogger,
on Apr 28, 2021 at 6:44 pm

Chandrama Anderson is a registered user.

Well said, Jack. Thank you for posting.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by McMadilyn, a resident of Diablo,
on Apr 29, 2021 at 4:45 am

McMadilyn is a registered user.

Thank you Chandrama, for sharing this post with us. This is how we should express our feelings towards others or show our sympathy, empathy for someone's feelings. Your writing inspires me. By the way, I am looking forward to reading your thoughts on marriage counseling during this pandemic situation since there is an increased tendency to break up relationships even marriage!


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