You vs. I Statements

“You” Statements vs. “I” Statements Part 3

In part one of this three-part series, we discussed “You” statements and how they can close a conversation from further exchange because they assign ownership to the received.  In part two of this series, we discussed “I” statements and how they put the ownership of how we feel on ourselves, thus opening up the conversation.  In this final part three, I wish to discuss how helpful “I” statements can be with our self-talk.

If I say self-talk to you, what is that?  I am thinking of it as that voice, non-verbal, but could be verbal, but the conversation is an evaluation of ourselves.  Usually, it is harmful.  That voice speaks up when we lose our temper, for example.  It might say, “You blew it again!  You knew this would happen.  You never seem to get it right.”  Notice how each of the three statements sounds accusatory and makes us feel depressed, like we’ve done something wrong or irreversible.

Over time, they erode our self-esteem and decrease our ability to express ourselves with others adequately.

When we turn that same conversation into “I” statements, it looks like this.  “I found my temper again.  I wouldn’t say I like it when I lose my temper because it pushes those away from me that I love.  I need to find a better way to express myself when I am angry.”   Just in reading this, you liberate yourself toward the possibility of overcoming this bad habit.  Changing those “You” statements into “I” self-talk statements takes time and a personal commitment.  Once they pop into your head, defeat them by rewording them as “I” statements.

Then be willing to go over what happened when you lose your temper, for example.  You won’t always succeed at first, but it will get better and better for you over time.

One day you will be in a situation, and you will feel that a conversation could go very wrong.  You will have a second or two to remind yourself that you have a choice on how you respond.  Then, with some patience, you will respond with “I” statements instead of those accusatory “You” statements.

I hope you have found this three-part series helpful in opening up your conversations with your kids and other adults.  By teaching this to your kids, you give them a life skill that could save a job, keep a marriage, and indeed save a relationship in the future.

Part 1 of this three-part series can be found here, “I” Statements vs. “You” Statements – Dr. Rich Patterson (

Part 2 of this three-part series can be found here, “You” Statements vs. “I” Statements Part 2 – Dr. Rich Patterson (

Psychology Today has an article on this life skill that may be found here, Are ‘I’ Statements Better Than ‘You’ Statements? | Psychology Today

Yours for better parenting,