You’re in conflict and you’re stuck in fight or flight. Your body and brain are hyper focused on being heard, so you passive aggressively express your needs using language that removes personal integrity. “You made me feel this way.” “You should do this instead.” We run ourselves and our loved ones in circles wanting our needs to be met, and in turn create an environment where our expression is muffled by aggression and blame. How do we reframe this communication in order to be seen? How can we express ourselves in an intentional way that allows us to be accountable for our own feelings?
I was listening to a recent podcast with Brene Brown where she gave an example of asking her husband about taking out the trash. Instead of asking if he took out the trash, she phrased this by saying, “did we?” It’s a common behavior for us to phrase things using we or us, and in doing so, we remove the “I” which is ultimately what “we” need to be seen. Asking our partners and family if they did or do something for us, and using “I” statements creates an accountability for both people. “I feel this way,” or “I need this,” goes a lot farther in the subconscious brain than language that is passive and ultimately aggressively used.
“I am feeling sad and disappointed right now,” is an expression of how we feel. It doesn’t rely on the other person to make us feel a certain way, nor does it blame them for our feelings. This subtle shift can open doors for our relationships to improve upon their connection. We no longer rely on the other person to “make” us feel a certain way, yet we can still have our feelings.
Why do we do this? Fear. We are afraid of being rejected in our feelings. We believe that if we taper down our expression, we “might” not scare the other person away. This is confusing, as this doesn’t portray our actual feeling, and it doesn’t express our actual needs. “I feel excited when you buy me flowers, because it reminds me that you think of me.” This is a statement that expresses our actual feelings and needs and prevents mixed signals to the other person about whether or not we enjoy something. This can also be the same for the expression of fear and sadness. “I might miss you if you go away.” It becomes incredibly difficult to create a sensation for the other person when we use meak language to express our feelings. “I will miss you,” in turn, is a deeper expression that shows genuine feelings for someone else. We prevent the mixed signals and we create a sense of connection to the other person by being authentic in how we feel.
It is scary to express ourselves authentically. We risk that when we do so, the other person might not reciprocate. Yet when we avoid conscious communication, we suppress our own emotions by preventing them from being heard fully. “I am” statements are powerful expressions of our most genuine selves, and this shift in language not only empowers us in our connections with others, it creates a sense of empowerment within ourselves.