Change, Healthy Behaviors

You Make Me…

How many times have we used the phrase “You make me so ____!!”? You can fill in the blank with angry, sad, hurt, annoyed, happy, etc. I hear it in counseling sessions daily. Those four little words have become so implanted in our vernacular that we don’t pay attention to the actuality of the statement. Each time I hear someone say “You make me…” I envision somebody standing over them with a baseball bat forcing them to feel. Isn’t that what the phrase implies?

The TRUTH is… no one can MAKE (i.e., force) you to feel anything at all. The truer statement is:

“When you do (fill in the blank), I feel ….”. Your feelings are real; they arise when you interpret an individual’s behavior or words but they come from YOU. It is necessary for you to OWN them.

Think about it… what happens to the listener when you start a sentence with “you…” – they are most likely preparing to DEFEND themselves! Many times the listener is unable to hear your ‘feelings’ because the mind will automatically go into defense mode and begin to counter-attack. Imagine what your relationships would look like if no one was ever defensive!

The challenge is to break the habit of using those four words and to change the way that you express the ‘feelings’ that you are attempting to communicate. The goal is to engage in a healthy exchange where both the listener and the speaker are in ‘listening’ mode – not defense mode.

Unproductive exchange:

“What’s on your schedule today?”

                “ I’ve already told you, can’t you remember anything?” 

“When you say that, you make me feel like an idiot”

                “Well I can’t help what comes out of your mouth”

“You don’t care about me”

                “Oh brother, that again?”

Productive Exchange:

“What’s on your schedule today?”

                “ I’ve already told you, can’t you remember anything?” 

[deep breath] “No, I don’t remember… and that statement felt like an insult. Was it your intention to insult me?”

                “No, I was just teasing you”

“When you tease me like that, it hurts my feelings”

                “I am sorry; I love you and don’t want to hurt your feelings”

What a difference! In the productive exchange, a deep breath before responding, a calm voice that talks about ‘feeling’ and a clarification of intention prevents a defensive counter-attack. The unhealthy dynamic is stopped in its tracks!

YOU are the owner of your feelings and NO ONE but yourself ‘makes’ you … anything! Try diffusing a defense today.

2 thoughts on “You Make Me…”

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