It was as difficult as I expected! But it made me much more aware of how much I talk about myself. For example, when I went to get my hair cut, I realized how much of the conversation usually revolves around me. When I stopped talking about myself and let my stylist lead the conversation, I ended up getting to know much more about her. I found out more about her that day than any other time in the last six years! Giving up “I” completely is close to impossible, but reducing my use of it *is* possible and is something that I will continue to work on.
“I” was my word for this week. Wanted to try to emphasize the other person instead of me. I did not do so well in giving it up, but trying was a lesson in and of itself. I had no idea how much I talk about myself! I would be in the middle of a sentence and freeze as I was reminded to make the conversation about someone else! I would switch gears and try to solicit conversation from them and about them. I’ve decided to do this word for two weeks since I didn’t do as well as I wished I would have. I’ll see if I improve this week!
The great German Jewish theologian, Martin Buber, reminds us that words reflect attitudes about others. “In the beginning was the relation,” he says. The struggle for some of us (at least for me) is to treat the other more often as a Thou and not unconsciously as an It. To help that, I gave up using the word “I” to start a conversation and to really focus on the other: How are You? How is Your family? How are You doing lately? Too often I unconsciously engage in this polite conversation not really out of interest in the other, but out of social propriety. The gift of the other — their Thou-ness — is missed when that happens. What a loss! What an expansion to really focus on the other as Thou and throw propriety to the wind!