When You/I

Therapists are not supposed to tell their patients what to do; rather their role is to help the patient figure it out on their own (with, some gentle nudging from said therapist.)  That is all well and good, but every so often it pisses me off and I push back a little.  Just the other day I was talking with Jessie’s shrink and, finally, when I felt like my head was going to pop off said, “will you just tell me what the fuck to do?!”  Much to my surprise, he did.

As with his simple advise of a few weeks ago to understand that we can only walk with our children (https://georgejessielove.wordpress.com/2012/05/12/walk-this-way/), he suggested that the next time Jessie (or anyone else I come into contact with, for that matter) behaves in a manner that makes me want to either bop them in the face or open a vein of my own with a butter knife I should simply, calmly and sternly say: “when you (fill in the blank) I (fill in the blank).  Example:  “When you stomp your foot and refuse to clean up your room, I want to throttle you, er, I mean, it makes me angry that you are being disrespectful.” He (the shrink) further stated that it is important that everyone in the family toe the same line so that, if nothing else, the sheer repetition will force her (or whomever you are using this tactic against, I mean, with) to be a little less narcissistic and a little more aware of how their behavior is driving everyone else to the brink of insanity.  In theory, you hear something enough and you are bound to start to take it to heart, right?

I immediately shared the new plan with Rich and Harrison and quietly sat and observed as they each dutifully stated their position to the current irritant in the house.  First out the gate was Jessie insisting (read: Demanding.  Loudly.) that the channel on the television be changed from “Pawn Stars” (which both kids enjoy) to “SpongeBob” which has lost some of its allure due to the fact that it seems to have been on a never-ending loop for the past three years.  Harrison, calm, cool and with an unmistakable air of sarcasm and drama responded by saying, “When you act like a brat over something like a TV. show, I want to leave the room.”  I held my breath awaiting Jessie’s response as I fully realized that Harrison leaving the room might be the very goal of her insistence in the first place, but, to my great surprise, she responded by agreeing, without fanfare, to watch “Pawn Stars”.  Well, I’ll be damned.

It was not long after that when the opportunity arose for Rich to try things out.  His encounter had something to do with a computer issue, the specifics of which have already escaped my memory.  I do recall, however, that the “when you/I” trickery, er, tactic worked.  We were already three for three and it hadn’t even been an hour.  WTF?

While it has been a scant twenty-four hours,  I personally have not only successfully engaged in this new methodology several times but have even shared it with a few friends as a suggestion in dealing with the pain in the ass, um, I mean challenging person in their lives.  I now anxiously await news of their success stories.  I also want to know why no one taught me that little gem in parenting school.

So, the next time you find yourself in a situation in which you are concocting detailed scenes of choking, slapping or sticking someone’s head in the nearest toilet give the “when you/I” game a try.  You can thank me later.  (Unless it doesn’t work, in which case, disregard this post entirely.)


33 thoughts on “When You/I

  1. Julie, another great post. I learned the phrase you describe slightly differently — when you _______, I feel ____________ so I ______________, Same idea, just a bit more sharing.

  2. I received this advice from a shrink some years ago. Shortly thereafter I tried the technique with my mother (read: the reason I was seeing the shrink in the first place). After a dramatic pause, my mother replied, “Well that’s ridiculous! You shouldn’t feel __; you have no reason to feel ___!” That said, I still maintain that it’s a good idea (at least to try).

  3. Is Jessie’s behavior due to her age or the fact that she is really something special that has been focused on? Just wondering,as I have a daughter the same age and I identify as TG as you already know. Kids of that age are a selfish lot,no mater the gender.lol

  4. We used to use a similar thing called “Feel, Felt ,Found” I know how you feel about xyz, I have felt about xyz.. but i have found that..
    I had learned this early on as a fundraiser but we sometimes use it in conversations about things we dont want to do!!

    • Not to be competitive, but Jessie is miles ahead of me (ten steps? She laughs at that) yet it kind of stops her in her tracks. Try it and let me know how it goes!

  5. This tactic is similar to ones used in “Teaching with Love and Logic” by Fay and Funk. I know they have a parenting book, too–I love the one for teachers and find it VERY useful in my work with adolescents. It might be something to check out!

  6. Lydia came home from kindergarten one day and explained this to me. They called it giving someone an I-Message. You look the person in the eye and say, “when you ______, I feel ______, and I want you to stop.” I thought it was brilliant at the time, teaching kids interpersonal tools like that. Now the real trick will be to see if I can use it on her now 19 year old self without detection. Wish me luck. And btw…the room cleaning struggle never ends……

    • It is decidedly more difficult to play these things off on those who have been exposed to the games of psychology, isn’t it?

      As for the mess rooms, Harrison’s is the WORST!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s