Well this certainly sounds like a topic worth reading huh? In reality, it's about one of the most life transforming lessons I've learned.. This blog is not about me (despite the title), it’s about how I've learned to speak and the effectiveness of the statements I make to others.( i.e. "I" and "me" statements.)
Using I and me statements is essential to communication, yet they seem to be a lost art. These statements take complete ownership of what I represent while taking the enormous sting out of any accusations when I tend to “should” all over people (i.e., “you should….” or “Shouldn’t you…?”).
Here’s what I’ve learned:
I and me personalize: (good thing this isn’t a blog on sentence structure because that sounds horrible). When I’m communicating with someone one the most powerful influences I have is my life experiences. When I speak in I and me statements, I’m sharing those personal parts of my life that factually happened. “I was an air traffic controller” or “I am a Christian,” this is all pretty basic stuff; but our lives are more than the obvious basics.
I and me rebuke generalities: I’m often annoyed by those who refuse to take responsibility for their lives by lumping themselves into a nebulous group of whoevers. Phrases like “People tend to…..” or “Everyone does…..” or “we all have…..” are used far too often so that whatever it is they’re talking about will be either minimized or maximized by some kind of group power. Folks will talk about themselves endlessly but avoid personal responsibility if it’s not self promoting.
I and me eliminate the 3rd person: I had a buddy who used to talk about himself like he was 2 people. He would say things like “Well a guy like Joe needs to move on in life,” of “It’s time for Joe to grow up” but he (Joe) couldn’t speak directly about himself or his shortcomings. Sadly this kept him sick a long time.
I and me slam accusation: If you want someone to hear you, especially with those really difficult subjects, then use I and me statements. “Dude, you need to stop drinking, it’s killing you.” I heard those very words before yet they carried little weight because it felt like a lecture. But when someone told me “I used to drink, unthinkable amounts that led to catastrophic results” I listened. It was no longer a lecture but instead this was personal…..which made it powerful.
When I tell a substance abuser that “I’ve been there;” “I was hopeless;” “My life was a train wreck;” “My life is now different;” the focus all of a sudden is not on the substance abuser’s problem but instead it’s on mine. I don’t even have to mention the other person's issue, they know what it is (whether they minimize it or not); they’re aware it’s there.
Finally, I and me begin the path to healing. I believe that through the use of I and me statements, true healing begins because we take real ownership of who we are. This isn’t a “get out of jail free” method where someone uses their shortcomings for a life excuse; instead it’s honestly “owning it” with the intention to do something about it.
I mean, the only person I can actually do something about is me. The words: “I am an alcoholic and drug addict” were hard to say in the beginning. They were a reminder of a thousand mistakes I made in every area of my life, but the negative impact started to reduce in time as the positives of this revelation began to take root. People that talk in generalities don’t get this; they place blame everywhere else while missing this crucial point: you can’t get well if you haven’t identified the problem. When doctors diagnose a problem they don’t tell you “a lot of people get cancer” no they say “You have…..”
When you get used to speaking in I and me terms you begin to take ownership of who you are. Hey, we’re all flawed but we’re also all created uniquely by God. The blessing for me came when I realized that my imperfections were the perfect pathway to my perfect God. Alcohol and drugs weren’t my problem; I was my problem. Once this became clear I got out of the problem and into the solution by surrendering my life to God through His Son: Jesus Christ.
God is the one who originated I and Me so what better example to follow? When Moses asked God what he should tell his people if they asked what God’s name was, God replied: “Tell them I AM has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:14)