The Power of a Pronoun

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"The power of a pronoun" by De Yarrison (CatholicMom.com)

By Ben White via Unsplash.com (2016), CC0 Public Domain. Text added by De Yarrison.

In a coaching conversation earlier today, my client and I went on a journey that began with a messy situation (literally!) with her kids to which she reacted in anger and frustration, and ended with compassionate connection and self-support. Her inner dialogue shifted from a blame-based: “Why do I always … I never,” to a unity-based: “I’m with you … let’s look at this together.”

A pivotal moment leading to her inner shift came when she was able to experience herself as a “You” rather than just an “I.” Let me explain.

When we refer to ourselves, we pretty typically use the pronoun, “I.” I did this, or I said that. When others refer to us, they use the pronoun, “You.” You did this, or You said that. Each of us, in fact, is both “I” and “You.” Big deal, you may say. The big deal comes when we think of ourselves in terms of “You.”

  • I extend to YOU the same kindness that I extend to other people.
  • I extend to YOU the same ‘benefit of the doubt’ that I extend to other people.
  • I recognize that YOU need my compassion, just like other people do.
  • I extend to YOU my understanding that I would extend to anyone else.
  • I extend to YOU the same forgiveness that I extend to other people.

Consider that the YOU being referred to in the above statements is, well, you, the person reading this post. Now re-read the above five statements, this time, imaging yourself as the subject of each statement. Try inserting your own first name, such as: “De, I extend to you the same kindness that I extend to other people.”

Wow. Feel a little strange, perhaps?

As you said each statement aloud, some may have felt true or right. Others may have felt inauthentic or like a stretch for you to believe. In the case of the latter, there may be an underlying belief or assumption we are holding about ourselves that contradicts with the statement. For example, if saying, “I extend to you the same understanding that I would extend to anyone else,” has you thinking, “Yeah, right. No way can I do that!” you may be holding a contradictory belief, such as:

  • It’s not ok for me to make a mistake.
  • It’s not ok for me to need help or ask for help.

Let’s just call these what they are: lies. It’s fascinating to press pause on the automatic conversation that unfolds in our minds throughout the day and write down the words we’re speaking to ourselves. Would we utter these words aloud to any other human being? Would we hold our best friend to the same unrealistic standards to which we hold ourselves (never make a mistake, never ask for help)?

As I’ve shifted my view of myself to a YOU, I’ve been more and more able to replace the unkind self-talk with compassionate and supportive self-talk. Seeing myself as YOU, helps me remember that I too am a human being with valid needs, just like you are. I too am imperfect and doing my best, just like you are.

Let’s close with a prayer.

Heavenly Father, I pray that you will guide us as we journey along the pathway of self-acceptance and self-compassion. Help us to grow in loving relationship with ourselves. Thank you that You’ve made us each whole and in Your image. Please help us to see ourselves more clearly. To see ourselves as You see us, Lord; as we truly ARE. Amen!


Copyright 2017 De Yarrison

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About Author

De is a wife, mother, coach, and women’s retreat facilitator. De is super excited about guiding women to discover the Truth of who they are – God’s chosen and beloved ones! She offers insight and experiences for mothers to cultivate resilience, self-compassion, and an unshakeable faith in our amazing God. De has lots of goodies for download at ConversationRevolution.com -- Evolving the Conversation of Mothering!

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