Setting boundaries, as you now know, can be hard for many of us due to the societal conditioning we’ve received throughout our lives. It can seem selfish to put our own needs above those of the people around us. You may struggle with emotions such as self-doubt and guilt as you learn to set limitations on your time, energy, and effort. As you’ve learned, this is normal and can be overcome. Another technique can help to cushion the limits you place upon other people. This strategy is known as “I statements.” In today’s post, I’ll tell you more about I statements, the benefits they offer, and ways to use them in your everyday life. Take a look.
About I Statements
The term “I statement” comes from the fact that the word “I” is used when making them. These statements are short and concise sentences that center the action on yourself. Hence, you’ll use the word “I” to share with others how you feel, what you need, or what’s important to you. Centering your statement on yourself helps to take any sense of blame or negativity from the other person so that they won’t feel defensive. When you use an I statement, the person you’re addressing won’t perceive that they are being attacked.
Benefits of I Statements
There are benefits to using I statements when setting boundaries. As noted, it can relieve the other person of any sense of guilt, blame, or burden. They won’t be defensive. Therefore, they will be more apt to listen to your needs and more open to accepting the limits you set. Using these statements gives you some control while easing such negative emotions as self-doubt and guilt. You won’t need to feel these things when you use I statements to avoid placing blame. Boundaries will be more readily heard when you soften the blow in this manner.
How to Use Them
Using I statements is simple. When setting a boundary, you emphasize yourself rather than someone else. For example, you could say, “I feel overextended when I take on too many tasks; therefore, I will need to decline your offer to serve on the committee.” This shows the person making the request that you would be interested in helping them if you didn’t have so much on your plate already. You’re showing vulnerability when sharing the way that you feel. This is preferable to saying, “I’m just too busy to volunteer for your committee,” or, “I don’t want to help you right now.” I statements should be used to show the other person your human side and to ease potential defensiveness on their part.
Using I statements takes practice, but it’s a skill that can help your interpersonal relationships in several ways. Using them when setting boundaries is a strategy that will make the process much easier, particularly when you’re just starting.