• Janine Green

Owning it

How often do you find yourself using “you” when you really mean “I”? Listen to yourself and you may be surprised – it’s probably more often than you think.

When I first had a Coach, many years ago, this was one of the first things he pointed out to me. I didn’t realise the extent to which I spoke about myself in this way, but once I became aware of it, it seemed it was happening constantly. And I started to notice it everywhere. Initially, the main culprits seemed to be sports people, when they were giving their interviews after their match, race etc. “You’ve trained all year for this and when you don’t quite manage to come out on top, then you feel devastated”(or insert any generic sports quote here). I then found myself shouting at the telly “No, I haven’t trained all year! I don’t feel like that, YOU do!”

And then I noticed it in friends and colleagues too – basically we all do it. And the more we do it, and the more we hear other people doing it, the more it becomes habitual. And then we find ourselves doing it without ALL THE BLOODY TIME.

It has become part of the way in which we use language.

Why does this happen? I think there are a number of reasons. It’s most likely to happen when we talk about our actions, experiences, behaviour or feelings – when we’re recounting something - and sometimes these can be too much for us, subconsciously. We might find it difficult to take ownership of our experiences and feelings, for any number of reasons. Using “you” removes us slightly from the matter – which can be a form of self-protection, if we’re not ready to deal with something yet, or give us a sense of perspective if we haven’t quite processed it, so that we can make sense of it.

BUT, consistently talking in this way means that we are less able to really take control and take ownership of our actions/experiences/behaviour/feelings – thus never really getting to the core of why we do and feel what we do. And if we aren’t able to take control of ourselves, then our ability to change and grow is diminished.

So, if you really want to take ownership of yourself and to feel more in control, then one of the simplest things you can start to practice is to change your language – from “you” to “I” when speaking about yourself. Try it, you might surprise yourself.