I want you to try an experiment this month.
We often say “I feel” to describe an action, a judgement, or what we imagine someone else is thinking. Stop doing that.
Instead, only use the word “feel” to directly describe emotions and nothing else.
Emotion words are things like: mad, glad, sad, happy, scared, nervous, anxious, giddy, fearful, small, unimportant, powerful, strong, loving, unloved, and so on. There’s lists online to get you started.
So try using this model:
“This situation makes me feel [FEELING]. From what you said/did, I imagine that you’re thinking [fill in the blank]. Is that how you feel/what you’re thinking?”
This goes beyond grammar; it changes the way we look at a situation.
Try it. It will feel awkward for a while. A long while, really. But it makes you totally reconsider how you’re approaching a conflict.
This exercise is loosely based upon my understanding of Non-Violent Communication; more importantly, it directly addresses the thing I most often see people (including myself) get wrong with NVC. If this exercise intrigues you, try checking out Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life and going from there.