Individual Counseling

Use The Pronoun ‘I’ When Discussing Your Thoughts And Feelings

By  | 

When you listen to people being interviewed, talking about themselves and their experiences, you’ll notice they invariably use the pronoun ‘you’ rather than ‘I’ to describe what they’re going through. The more personal the subject matter the more they are tempted to do it.

What we have going on here is a psychological defense mechanism, where by that simple change in pronoun people achieve some distance from their own experience. They turn this experience into objective truth rather than subjective interpretation, something that apparently carries weight for everyone not just for themselves.

One of the first things you learned as a mental health counselor is to instruct clients to take back their experience simply by replacing that ‘you’ with ‘I’, thereby getting closer to their own thoughts and feelings so that they can analyze them in a more personally meaningful way and take ownership over them.

The paradox is that using ‘I’ instead of ‘you’ might sound egocentric, but the true egocentricity is projecting your own experience onto the world at large, taking your subjective thoughts and feelings as objective fact. If you find yourself constantly using ‘you’ when discussing your thoughts and feeling with others, try shifting to ‘I’ and be mindful of any psychic change, if you feel closer to what you’re talking about. See if it makes you question whether your perspective is universally valid or represents some of your own personal biases.