Normally, statements beginning with “I” worry me. For a while this truly bothered me, event to extent that I try to limit the number of “I” statements in my own conversations and writing. Recently, I had a discovery…the problem is not with the “I,” but rather the word that follows. Consider how the following words, when paired with “I” to start a sentence make you feel.

  • want
  • need
  • think
  • believe
  • feel
  • would

Honestly, these sentence starters are not all bad, but what welled up in you as you thought of how they might be finished? We all use “I” statements each day, many of which are paired with these second words, and probably without doing damage. Yet at times, these words might signal our material desires disguised as “needs,” or our focus on being right rather than what we “believe,” or even our sense of righteousness disguised as advice giving words.

There are no best practices for using these words beyond an awareness of what we really mean when we use them, which leads me to three new “I” statements that I am trying to use more.

I don’t know. I like being right. I like having know it all power at my fingertips to prove my point. What I am learning is that mystery is okay. Letting others be the star is more important than standing in the spotlight all the time. Not knowing demopnstrates humility and suggests that I might be a good conversation partner on a journey. Being right becomes a competition which means creating a winner and a loser. I certainly do not want to lose, so why would I want my conversation partner to feel the same way?

I see you. The world seems to have as many labels as ever, and many of them are divisive. Rather than seeing labels I want to see people and their humanity. I need to appreciate their unique story. When we truly see one another, categorizing and judging based on our own stereotypes becomes much less likely.

I wonder. There are days that I need a greater appreciation for mystery and awe. Saying “I wonder” invites me to do just that. If I say it out loud, I invite others into the creative process as well. Exploring together is usually more fun for me than going it alone.

What are your “I” statements that we could learn from and practice together?

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