Tool #7  Asserting Yourself with I Messages

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YOU Messages
YOU Messages are what people typically use when angry.  
They include orders, threats, put downs, name calling,
demands, lecturing.  They usually involve pointing a finger
at others - something no one likes done to them.  YOU
Messages are also called "Solution Messages" because
they often tell others what to do.  They try to take away from
I Messages
I have a simple rule.  If you're going to say anything that you
know others might not like, always start what you say with
either "Please....." or "I.....".  I Messages start with the
Getting a relationship you care about back on course
Writing Letters
We all have cognitive, emotional and behavioral "ruts" from
years of practicing and rehearsing thinking, feeling and
talking the way we do when we disagree with others.  Too
often, those "ruts" cause us to feel worse than is helpful or
necessary.  That causes us to say and do things that just
make whatever is wrong even worse.  It's easy to plug into
those "ruts" without intending to when face to face with
1)  You can take back what you say if it doesn't sound like it will work
2)  People will always read letters, often more than once
3)  That means you get to make your points without interruption
4)  For most people, a letter of I Messages like above will be a "keepsake"
5)  If you take a constructive attitude, the next face to face will be easier
6)  You create new "ruts" for talking in more constructive ways
7)  You're more likely to talk that way in the future when face to face
8)  You're more likely to get what you really want in a relationship
Putting your behavior where you want your attitude to be
Sometimes, simply practicing using I Messages can
change your attitudes about many things.  If you can just
bring yourself to use them.  This is called "Putting your
behavior where you want your attitude to be".  It's
analogous to riding an elevator over and over again if

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them the right to choose what they want to do.  No one likes
that either.  Using YOU Messages usually just invites
needless and futile power struggles.  The more people try to
impose their wills on others, the more it tends to invite
others to do the opposite. Others will be inclined to do the
opposite just to prove you are not in control of them
                                            "I don't like when.......we argue and fight so much."

If you tell others what you don't like, it always helps to tell them what you like instead.  

                                      
     "I like it better when......we talk nicely to each other"
pronoun I.  They simply give information.  For example,
information like what you don't like.
                                         "I get sad when......we can't seem to get along"
                                         "I get frustrated when......I try to tell you something and you won't listen"

It also helps to acknowledge other peoples thoughts and feelings, and any transgressions you may have committed.  You can
do that by completing phrases like:

                                         "I know that........I sometimes say and do things you don't like"
                                         "I realize that.......I would probably be upset too if you did that to me"
                                         "I understand why........you got upset about that"

It also helps to apologize for anything you can, and express any regrets or remorse you might have.  There are always a lot
of things you can apologize for without necessarily apologizing for what you said or did.  For example:

                                         "I'm sorry that........we argue and fight so much"
                                         "I'm sorry if........you're upset about what I did"
                                         "I wish I hadn't.......said/done some things I have in the past"
                                         "I wish I could......undo some things I've done"
                                         "I wish I could......take back some things I've said"

Finally, you want to let them know what you want, or don't want.

                                         "I just don't want.......us to argue and fight all the time"
                                         "I just want.......us to get along better"

You leave what they want to do about the information you give them up to them.  That's where that decision resides anyway.
make ourselves feel about that.  We can upset ourselves
as much or as little as we want.  If you do let other know
how you feel, remember that people usually respond to
feelings like frustration and sadness better than they do
anger. If others are angry, you may not want to share how
you feel.  It won't matter to them while they're angry, and
may just give them some satisfaction.
 
You can also let others know how you feel.  Sometimes
that can be helpful, other times it may not be.  However,
you don't want to make them out to be to blame for how
you do.  Remember, our thoughts cause how we feel, not
what others say or do.  What we choose to think is
understandable, but it is a choice.  Others are responsible
for what they say and do, but not necessarily how we
others.  Many people don't even see how dysfunctional
doing so is.  That's especially true when they are making
themselves angry.  Anger gives people a false sense of
power, righteousness, permission, and protection.  One
way to fight this tendency is to practice writing letters to
people.  Letters have a couple of advantages.
Two of the e-books listed on the home page have a list of 50 I Messages people could use to help get a relationship they
care about back on track.  Those books are "The Mental and Emotional Tool Kit" and "The Mental and Emotional Tool Kit
for Teachers and Parents".

Home page                                                                                Tool #8
you're afraid to do so.  You ride it until your attitude about
doing so is modified by your experience.  If you say "I just
want us to get along" often enough, it will encourage you
to try to do so.  That will be good for any relationship you
are in.
I would appreciate any feedback on this page. Was it helpful?  ray@itsjustanevent.com