I have been working on using “I” instead of you, or we, or us when making statements. A few weeks ago in class the instructor called me out for using we instead of I. She said “don’t speak for me, speak for yourself. If you are going to make a statement, then own it.” And that really has stuck with me. And I will say she follows her own lead. She is my Reverend and yesterday in her sermon she corrected herself. She started a statement, said we, and then said no, I, I will own this. So that really supported the work around this.
And it is work. I keep catching myself using we, or people, or they, or us. Anything to not own the statement. Anything to not stand behind it all alone by myself. But really, I don;t get to speak for you or for us. I speak for myself and that is all. Unless you come to me and say can you speak for us and make an agreement, than anything I say is an assumption. Never assume…which Agreement is that? Number 3 I think.
So why is it so easy to slip into that mode? I think for me (owning it) it is a way of hiding. By grouping myself with others I minimize my own responsibility for the thought. So if I am wrong, or not everyone agrees with me I can say well I am not the only one. And also standing alone with a thought and sharing it is scary, it exposes me….to criticism, to embarrassment, to conflict. What if you don’t like what I say? What if I sound stupid, what if I am the only who feels that way?
What if I sound brave, smart, funny? What if I say what others want to, but are quiet? What if I understand the power of my words and use them carefully and honestly with respect with others? What if I do not assume I know how you feel, what you think? Can we have a conversation then? Is this how doors and minds open? When I own my thoughts and feelings and you own yours, how beautiful is that…….
I have a Facebook page. I try really hard to keep it general, light, fun. I do not engage in politics, religion, social causes etc. This is my choice. Everyone should do what they want with their page. But the other day I came across a post from a friend who is probably way less liberal than I am. Not to detail it but it referenced gay pride in a non supportive way. I tried to pass it by. I said “its her page, leave it alone” I kept scrolling, but I could not just say nothing. So I went back, thinking I was heading into a minefield. I kept thinking of the quote by Edmund Burke “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Anyway, I posted a respectful disagreement to her post and sat back expecting the worst. Let me tell you, I received support from total strangers. And I felt like using my words, and owning them, was really powerful in that moment.
Since I have working on owning my words and my thoughts, I shared that with my co worker over the last few weeks. Today she started a sentence saying “we” and then switched and said ” I am owning this….I ” It was awesome, she owned it!
We do not have to strengthen our thoughts by propping them up with the false sense that others agree. Our thoughts are strong on their own. We are smart, we are logical, we can figure this out. We can have our own opinion without permission from anyone else. I am enough, my own mind is enough. I feel this way, I think this, I believe this, I know this……….it is enough even when it is only me.
So I invite you to join me in owning your statements. In not bringing others in to strengthen your stance but standing tall on your own and saying “I”. You would surprised how good it feels.
And one last thought, do not let others speak for you. When they say we, gently say to them, you.