How many times have you been chatting with a group (If you said none, you need to get out of your mother’s basement and start doing something with your life) and during that conversation, you hear a statement like “we need to…” or “If you were in my shoes…” or “(Wo)Men always…” It associates with some type of behavior or choice that I know that I should or shouldn’t do. THAT DRIVES ME NUTS!
Why Don’t We Use “I Statements”?
What is going on here? Justification. The speaker compares them to the group they’re with and uses that group to set the standard. The standard of mediocre, I just want to do enough to get by. The acceptance of sinful behavior, “everyone else is doing it” so that makes it OK. Or, the search for peer acceptance to increase my self-worth and self-esteem. The speaker wants to make what he or she is doing, believing, or behaving to be justified in this world. Justification in this manner lowers the bar of your desire. It allows you to accept “good enough” or even less instead of achieving excellence.
“Compare to Despair”
–Jon Lee Dumas – JLD – Entrepreneur on Fire
What else? Avoiding ownership. By saying “we should really…” or “It would be great if (group of people) did…” the speaker is trying to pass off the ownership of anything to the group. By avoiding the ownership, the feeling of commitment to the change or action is seemingly delegated to the group of people. But it isn’t! It is just floating around in the ether. Without ownership there is no action. When you want to massively change your life, your business, your community, you need to take massive action. Massive action requires complete ownership along with vision.
“You are the average of the 3 people you spend the most time with”
Justification and avoiding ownership corrode the excellence you are capable of. I inherently know what excellence is. I know God is a God of perfection and I can never achieve his excellence but I can pursue it. If I allow myself to compare to others and this world, I can take it easy and let myself off the hook.
How Do “I Statements” Help?
On the other hand, when I compare against yesterday’s me and continually seek growth and improvement, I achieve more every day. One of my colleagues stated this weekend that he has improved 1,460 % over the last four years by improving 1% every day. Can you imagine? I always say that a day without learning is a day wasted.
Instead of saying, “If you were in my shoes, you would…”, say “I will…” completing that statement with thoughts of excellence. Everyone in the world has a built in excellence and righteousness meter. Use that and make statements of action towards excellence.
If you doubt the presence of your excellence and righteousness meter, know that God created you in His image. That means you are created to look like and be like Him. No matter what has happened to you in your life, you are good. God said so. He created you to be like Him. No matter where you have been in life to land you where you are, you can get out by using “I statements” to improve 1% every day.
“I Statements” Get Lost in a Group–You Can Get Lost in a Group; DON’T
When you thinking something in a group stance like, “We need to spend time reading scripture every day.” I don’t get convicted when I miss a day. Using “I statements” personalizes the statement and gives me direct ownership of the action to take. “I need to spend time in scripture every day.” Commits me to taking the action and owning the failure to act.
Here are some “I statements” that were critical to me when I began my sexual addiction recovery:
- I keep my eyes in the right place.
- I connect with my support system.
- When my eyes are in the wrong place, I take them out the first time and I don’t go back.
- I recite this scripture, “Thy word have I hid in mine heart that I might not sin against thee.” When I am tempted.
These “I statements” give me actions to take that I can easily do and own. They lead me to a higher quality of self. They don’t need to be recovery oriented. You can align your “I statements” towards your family, business, finances, or community. Make statements of action and change that are with your area of control that my taking action you can change the world.
“I Statements” Summary
“I statements” put you in control of your life. They force you to take action and responsibility for you. By owning your current state, you put yourself in a position to achieve higher greatness. When you are focused on you and your possibilities, you won’t be hindered by where others are and the self judgement that comes from comparison.
Using “I statements” with your family, accountability team, mastermind, or coach demonstrate your understanding of what it takes to grow and succeed. They charge you up because you personally align with and own the action stated.
Separate from yourself and listen to how you talk. Listen to your words and find times, places, and people where you use words like “we”, “all of us”, “people”, “men” or “women” and try to replace those with “I”. Then watch the speed of your pursuit of excellence increase. Notice the effect you take on your family, peers, work, and community. Go ahead and say this out loud:
I can change me.
I can improve my family.
I can expand my church.
I can grow my community.
I can affect the world.
Nike said it simply, “Just do it!” I say to you, “Just say it!” Don’t let the change you want to make in yourself be depersonalized.