Although most of us never really consider how we use words, particularly pronouns, we need to realize their potential in positively or negatively influencing the quality of our relationships. By consciously and mindfully selecting inclusive pronouns in our interactions, we can create a sense of unity and purpose in our relationships. When we select and use possessive and singular pronouns, we tend to isolate ourselves and alienate those we share our lives with.
I, me, he, she, herself, you, it, that, they, each, few, many, who, whoever, whose, someone, everybody, etc. are words that take the place of a noun. We use them constantly in our lives. They shape our lives and the quality of life that we share. How we use pronouns says a lot about what we believe of others, ourselves, our lives– and here’s why.
It seems so simple, but if we learn to use less of some pronouns and more of others, we can enjoy a highly elevated quality of life. It may surprise you to know that the pronouns “I” and “me” can be the most destructive pronouns to use. Oftentimes when we use the pronoun “I”, we omit the existence of anybody else but ourselves. The word “me” also implies that we have no concern for another person in our statement.
Moving on to the pronoun “mine”. It is no coincidence that the word “mine” can be used to describe both a state of ownership, as well as a very deep hole, or a kind of bomb. Consider how many conflicts begin in relationships due to the use of the word “mine”. Then consider the outcome of conflicts that end badly due to the use of the words, “me, mine, or I”. Nearly every conflict that results in tragedy has within it a reason that includes the words “me, mine, or I.”
People end up alone due to the overuse of the words me, mine, and I. People end up hurting each other deeply because of the use of these three words. People end up in prison and in court because of their use of these words. People also end up dead, because of the use of the words, I, me, and mine.
It is ironic that if we just learned to replace those three words, we could enjoy a much more productive and fulfilling life. Unfortunately, many social norms encourage and even honor the use of possessive and singular pronouns. Consider how normal it is today for example, to say the phrase, “that is my car, I bought it”. If you are a part of a marriage or any other kind of relationship, using the words I, me, or mine, completely invalidate the existence of the other partner. Would it not be more productive to say something like, “This is our car, we bought it”, even if the money you technically bought it with, was your own?
The same concept applies when it comes to parenting with your significant other. Who has not heard or used the phrase “That is my child”, when in reality the phrase should say, “he/she is our child”.
If you have ever been around young children, and seen them fight with each other, they will often only use one word against one another, and that is the pronoun “mine”.
It is not ironic that as we get older, we become more ensconced in our use of these words either. As we age, we accomplish things, and acquire things, and it is just natural that we would deem these accomplishments and acquisitions as explicitly our own. In reality however, no one ever accomplishes anything completely by him or herself.
If you have anything or have done anything, it is because other people helped you along the way somehow. No one is truly “self-made”. There are always supporters, encouragers, and helpers, who contribute their own time and resources into our successes.
By exchanging the words I, me, and mine, with we, us, and ours, we start to become a part of something larger than ourselves. We start to recognize that we all need each other, and have more things in common than not. We start to enjoy a higher quality of life, and develop an awareness of other people’s needs. In addition, we can enjoy the benefits of fulfillment personally and professionally, because pronouns can be our friends, or our enemies depending on how we use them.
Featured photo credit: Kaboom Pics- People on the pier via kaboompics.com