“You must take personal responsibility. You cannot change the circumstances, the seasons, or the wind, but you can change yourself. That is something you have charge of.” Jim Rohn

woman holding her face
Photo by Gabrielle Hnederson

The word I is much more than the ninth letter of the alphabet. The dictionary defines I as a pronoun and a word that a speaker uses to refer to himself or herself. It is a first-person singular pronoun. The dictionary further states that I is also used as the subject of a verb. When we have set a goal to be authentic our understanding of the resident power in the word I and how we use it becomes imperative. It is  neither selfish, self-righteous, nor an act of self-aggrandizement to navigate our way through the world with an I stamped on our chest. Just like the S which reminds us of a superheroes ability which extends finite human ability, the proper use of I enables the user to unlock inherent authentic power. This style of authentic power is useful as we aim to be true to ourselves, deal with conflict, and determine our place in the world.

I, is a pronoun and a word that a speaker uses to refer to himself or herself. There are times when we have to make decisions in life about what we want. And there are times that we need to be able to express how we truly feel. No one can honestly determine those things better than we can for ourselves. Seems simple enough, right? However, in the context of a tumultuous relationship, hectic life transition, or frenzied environments the simple becomes challenging. Wherever we find ourselves, but especially in times like these, we have to be willing to detach ourselves from the circumstances long enough to hear what our own heart is saying. Once we do this, we can refer to ourselves from an authentic position with statements that begin with I:  I feel, I think, or I am, are just a few examples. Then we are more capable of following through with subsequent actions which are authentic. Along my journey, I have discovered that when I use I statements, I am more authentically focused. In other words, I am more in touch with myself and I’m more connected to the meaning I need to derive from the experience in spite of being distracted by noisy distractions.

The dictionary states that I is also used as the subject of a verb. Which means that the I is connected to a verb whether it is a verb of action like, “I walked”, or a verb of being like, “I was”. This understanding is particularly useful in knowing how to authentically deal with conflict. Conflict is typically a result of mismatched expectations. No matter how many passive-aggressive attempts we make to avoid conflict, conflict is inevitable. Life is not about if conflict arises. Relationships in life are about when conflict arises. The conflict we experience does not have to be a sign of an imminent end or snowball effect for bigger problems. Patrick Lencioni, author of The Five Disfunctions of a Team says, “All great relationships that last over time require productive conflict in order to grow. This is true in marriage, parenthood, friendship, and business.” It’s a good idea to take responsibility for your part in the conflict whether overtly or covertly. All parties involved in the conflict are part of the issue. Assuming responsibility is not about placing fault or blame but it is about accepting full ownership of the matter at hand. We can do so more easily when we understand reaching a resolution is not about winning or losing but authentically opening up so that afterwards we can relish in the benefits of the conflict.

As an empath, I am learning how to better deal with conflict. I accept the inevitability of conflict but honestly speaking, I usually try to avoid it. Nonetheless, I am extremely selective about the “battles” I take part in. As I engage, I have found it to be more constructive to focus on recognizing my own actions and emotions. Then I can make “I” statements that are connected to a verb or the actions I displayed during the conflict without being consumed with confronting, correcting, or controlling the actions of others.

Too much emphasis is often placed on the often unidentified “they” and “everybody” in society. They are doing this and they are doing that. Who are they? Everybody has this and everybody knows that. Really? A deeper understanding of the power of I helps us to clearly determine our own place in the world. We have to know where we end and where the unidentified, they begin. I, draws a clear dividing line so that the choices we make are influenced by our own values, personality, and spirit, not the unidentified they and everybody. We have to give ourselves permission to be different—realizing that’s already the reality. I learned along my journey that what’s popular may not be right for me and what’s right for me may not always be popular. I proudly wear an I on my chest every day.

“The greatest act of courage is to be and to own all of who you are–without apology, without excuses, without masks to cover the truth of who you are.” Debbie Ford: Overcoming Fear and Igniting Self-Confidence”

Copyright by Deana Gordon

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