Archive for April 2016


Figs & Pomegranates $ Special Cheeses is getting nice exposure these days on Twitter. Now I’d like to know more people are reading and enjoying it. So, if all goes as intended, the Kindle version should be available in a day or two for $0.99.

I’d be overjoyed to see your review on In the meantime, you might enjoy reading the reviews that are already there.

And thanks!



One big truth behind caring about the use of “I” or “You” is the question of responsibility. For a simple example, the difference between “Did you understand me?” and “Did I make sense?” is the attribution of responsibility.

And attribution is a wiggly thing. When I stumble, I look for the crack in the sidewalk that I can blame. When you stumble I may look for the crack, or I may wonder what you did to cause you to stumble? We see the same action differently when it’s “you” doing it rather than “me.”

Some of us are really good at depression, so we may be quick to blame ourselves for things that we really had no control over. We may even be quick to blame ourselves for things that happen to other people.

But more generally, the tendency is to find an outside responsibility – luck, or other people, for example — for unpleasant things that happen to ourselves and claim our own responsibility – competence, for example –for good things that happen. With others, quite the other way, we aren’t so quick to see that bad luck caused the problem for the others, but rather we look for the fault in them.

It’s really handy to do things like blame the working poor for their own poverty rather than to recognize the social/economic truths at work. It’s equally handy to look at our own success and pat ourselves on the back for the good work we’ve done rather than appreciate the social/economic gifts we’ve been given.

This is tough business, but if the goal is to save therapy expense, or even just to like ourselves better, it’s a good idea to look at the rationality of our attributions. Problems don’t get solved until our attributions become more accurate.

So now, when it comes to selling my books, it’s not that I’m poor at marketing, it’s your fault for not buying them.


I’m delighted to kick off a series at Auburn Homes and Services here in Chaska at 6:00 p.m on Thursday, April 14. It will be a challenge to do something useful with such a complex topic as forgiveness in such a small amount of time, but I think I’ll provide something worthwhile. And providers can collect CEUs by attending these offerings.

I’d love to see you there.


RULE #7. CONSIDER, “IF NOT ‘YOU’ THEN ‘I’?”   15 comments

When, as in my last post, I advise people to avoid using “you” because it is so blaming, I encourage the use of “I” because it is honest. But just like the pitfalls related to “you,” there are hazards in using “I.”

Consider when I say, “You make me feel so angry.” It’s good to recognize a variant on the thought attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt. “No one can make you angry without your cooperation.” It’s more honest to say, “I feel angry when you say/do things like that.”

It’s that basic issue of control again. “I” am the one responding with anger. “I” can decide how to handle my anger. “You” can control what you do. “You” can decide to refrain from such behavior in the future in order to avoid contributing to my angry feeling. Or you can choose to decide that I’m being ridiculous. Or you can realize that what you said/did was appropriate, and maybe there’s some conversation needed between the two of us. Or whatever. The point is, “I” am responsible to myself and “you” are responsible for “you.”

Whenever “I” hold you responsible for my reactions, “I” am not only being dishonest; “I” am ceding my power and control to you.

As a general rule, I prefer the “I” word.

But, of course, there are other things to consider. “I” can be a very selfish word when it attempts to turn the focus of attention on “me” and away from “you.” Consider a few examples. There’s the sympathetic listener whose first response is, “Oh, I know just how you feel.” — No, you don’t!

Or maybe there’s the “sympathetic” response that goes like this. “Let me tell you about my accident/operation/breakup/whatever.” No, I want you to listen to me! I’m hurting and I need someone to hear about me. When you start your “I” comments, you are not showing support for me.

Another example of the undesirable use of “I:” We’ve all experienced it, I’ll bet, like when we have – or overhear – a conversation between two people on a date and one person is doing most of the talking, with lots of “I”s.

So yes, “I” puts the focus on the speaker, with all the aspects of honesty and control mentioned at the beginning. Or “I” puts the focus on the speaker with little concern for the “you” of the other person.

For all these reasons, I developed the practice when teaching a class never to ask “Do you understand?” (potentially blaming) But rather to inquire, “Have I made myself clear?” (acknowledging my responsibility as teacher/lecturer.)

Whew! “I’m” finding it hard to make my point clear. Only “you” know whether I have.



In general, I suggest to people that they never use the word “you” except to say something positive like “I love you,” or “You did such a great job on that project.” But there is another way that “you” becomes a positive word, as in “I’m so interested to hear your opinion about that,” or “Please tell me what interesting experiences you’ve had around that issue.”

But I still advise caution with that word “you.” Too often it’s a shaming word, as in “Why did you fall for that scam,” or “You should have known better.”

Worse yet, it’s a blaming word, as in “I lost because you gave me bad advice,” “Everything would have worked out OK if you hadn’t interfered.”

Sometimes it’s a blaming word even when it’s meant to be inspirational. I heard recently of a lecture session in which the speaker recounted the historically bad ways in which an ethnic group had been treated. At the end he suggested to the audience something like “You have a chance now to go out and rectify this situation.”  Many were heard as they left saying something like, “Why should I be blamed for something I didn’t do?” It’s that word “you.” All by itself it’s heard as an accusation.

Maybe the most annoying use of the word “you” is when it’s intrusive. I’d be willing to bet each of us has experienced the negative effects of this, and done our share of “you” intrusiveness in speaking to others. It happens most often, I think, when people are trying to be helpful. The person in financial, emotional, or other difficulty is bombarded by friends and other helpers attacking with, “Have you tried … ?” Why don’t you …” “You should …” “If you’d only … “Had you thought of … ?” Put them all together they amount to shame and blame. The victim of the unsolicited help is usually too polite to say, “Come off it. Do you think I’m stupid? Of course I’ve tried everything I could think of. Get off my back.”

The promise of “you” is a matter of respect. When I ask to learn more about you and what you did or do, it may come through as intrusive. Or, well presented with genuine interest, it may be experienced as a neat opportunity to share oneself with someone who cares.

Now I’ve told you what you ought to know about the word “you.” Are you sufficiently annoyed yet?



Posted April 1, 2016 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized

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