Speaking For Myself

The words we choose to express ourselves can have tremendous power. They have the power of perception. The power to change other people’s perceptions. And they can change them for the better or for the worse.

With that in mind, it would behoove each of us to consider the words we use and how they might be received by those we intend to communicate with. Not only for the sake of not upsetting them, but more importantly, so we can express our truths most effectively.

Have you ever noticed that when a person starts using “you statements” the other person instantly becomes defensive and their minds slam shut!? When this happens we get nowhere, but more frustrated.

For example,

[Dharma:] “Sally, it really ticks me off when you piss all over the toilet and don’t clean it up! I mean, you’re a GIRL! Aren’t you? How can you even do that? How’s it even possible? You’re so disrespectful and you only think about yourself! I’m going insane. I can’t live with you much longer!”

[Sally:] (becomes defensive because she perceives being attacked and instantly starts minimizing or denying any wrong doing on her part.— But this reaction is natural. We all do it. She’s only protecting herself from my attack.)

In the end, I’m riled up, she’s riled up. We’re both upset and nothing changes because she was too busy defending herself and didn’t even listen to my complaints.

Upset. Angry. & Nothing Changes.

Now, let’s re envision this scenario, except this time Dharma will approach it with a different strategy. This time, Dharma will speak for herself, using “I statements” instead of “you statements.”

[Dharma:] Sally, there’s something that’s been bothering me and I was hoping we could talk about it for a second and try to fix it.

[Sally:] Okay.

[Dharma:] Great, thanks! Here’s the deal. I really feel angry when I go into the bathroom and notice piss all over the toilet seat and floor, because i spend a lot of time cleaning each week to make sure we both have a healthy and safe place to do our business. Being HIV positive, I’m extra cautious about germs, so I won’t get sick as much. So, I need us to make an agreement, that we both quickly do a once over of the bathroom before we leave it and wipe up any spills, splatters or other messes we may have left. That way we minimizes the germ population and the next person can feel comfortable and safe using it. Is that reasonable?

[Sally:] Well, yes that’s fair. I hadn’t realized I’d been leaving it a mess. My bad.

[Dharma:] Thanks! Hey, let’s go dye our back hair fluorescent purple! 😀 We’ve never tried that color before!

OK, granted, it won’t always be that easy, but you see the potential there, right? Also, it does takes some practice. Roma didn’t become “The Most Photographed Nun In The World” in one day. But, here’s a little cheat sheet to help us along…

Gives you information about me, my feelings, and my needs, in a manner showing respect and concern for you.

I feel ___________ (my feelings)
When __________ (I see, hear, notice, etc.)
Because __________ (my values &/or history)
So, I need _________ (so you don’t have to guess)

Indulgent Blessings, my dears. MaeJoy B. withU all!



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