“I feel like” and other passive things we say to avoid defining ourselves, and why we’re afraid to do so.

I just had a short but mind peaking conversation with a trusted friend of mine who sent me an article titled, “Stop Saying I Feel Like” about how our culture has begun to use this phrase instead of other more defining words such as, “I think.”

This is interesting to me because, as someone who has many thoughts and emotions along with a strong desire to express them, I’ve always been an advocate for sharing what’s inside my head, and saying so accurately. I think it’s important to express yourself. Or, maybe, what I very likely would’ve said to you if we were having a face to face conversation, “I feel like it’s important to express yourself.” Why wouldn’t I have said “I think it’s important to express yourself”? I have no idea. Let’s dive in.

I think we can all agree there is no wrong way to say how one feels, emotion is subjective. All our feelings and opinions are valid, therefore saying “I feel” is an easy cop-out because it directly dodges the opposition. It allows you to slip out of an argument because it’s your subjective opinions and feelings, that’s all they are, and they can change at any moment.

But why don’t we want to state our thoughts and opinions with confidence? Why do we doubt ourselves? We know how we feel inside, and it’s likely we think our internal thoughts with much more conviction than we outwardly express. Why is it so difficult to commit to voicing a hard-edged observation?

And also, who cares if we’re wrong?

I’ve recently been doing a lot of soul searching. I’ve endured a 10 day meditation retreat, twice, in the past year, luckily for me I’ve had the time and been able to devote it to these periods of practice- I’m aware taking 10 days out of life is not a luxury many can afford- and from this, educating myself on the ego has become a huge theme in my life lately, and I’ve come to realize how much my own ego has been causing me enormous pain and suffering.

I also realize how much many peoples’ egos likely cause them suffering as well.

I believe, with conviction, (watch me currently working on this problem of mine! In this very blog post!) much of this “I feel like” bullshit is born out of fear of being wrong. And why do we care if we’re wrong? I’m not sure. So feel free to keep reading as I keep typing to see what I come up with!

Life is full of lessons, many of which are learned from making mistakes or enduring a bumpier road that in retrospect we realize was the harder choice, but a choice that has bettered us nonetheless. How wise, clever, open-minded, curious or grateful would we be if all our choices lead down smooth roads? Not very.

So many times I’ve looked back and thought something extremely epic and profound like “Holy shit that was fucking tough. But I’m glad it went the way it did.”

I’m apparently brave enough to travel Asia alone and live in a country that doesn’t even use romanic letters, but I’m afraid to express my thoughts with confidence for fear of defining myself, just in case I change my mind. In case I’m wrong. About myself.

Why is that so hard, and why does that scare me so much?

We live in a world where we get to display who we are, or maybe more accurately, who we want others to believe we are, via Facebook photos and Twitter posts.

We have the privilege to parade ourselves however we want to the public, but with all this oversharing comes an enormous burden, the more we share the more we think about what we share and how it’s perceived by our audience. And along with this I believe comes a swelling of the ego.

As if we don’t overthink enough, we now have this opportunity that no longer feels like a privilege, but a burden, we have the chance to share the right thoughts, right views and opinions, ones that we hope will be agreed with because we want to feel validated. “Like me!” We don’t want our ego scratched at or torn down. I think we’re afraid to be wrong.

So why can’t we just say what we actually think without saying it’s how we feel? Sure it’s how we feel but it’s also our hard-wired thoughts and opinions from which we likely will not deviate.

So just say it goddammit!

Where’s the fun in agreeing with people all the time? Some of my most meaningful and thought-provoking conversations have been with people I have nothing in common with and whose opinions I starkly oppose.

Last week I caught up with my old roommate from Spain over Skype and we were crying-laughing remembering this conversation her, I, and our third roommate Scott shared while sitting at our kitchen table after school one day. We were talking about the welfare of our planet, in particularly the continent of Africa and how an enormous percentage of it’s people are living in poverty. Scott told us, with distinct confidence and conviction, that Africa is the world’s “bleeding wound” (yes that is a quote- you don’t forget a statement like that!) and there is no other way for the world to survive but to amputate. To literally cut it off because there is no other remedy if the world is to survive. Jenna and I were, and still are, so appalled by the extreme blatancy and ridiculousness of this opinion that we still laugh about it, two and a half years later. I’m honestly still not sure he really believes in that statement, but he said it and allowed us to think he thinks it regardless. Nonetheless it’s a valid thought, it may be wrong, it may even be right (for the record I don’t believe that!) But regardless of it’s validity it’s an interesting opinion that brought us much passionate discussion, and even some ab-clenching, teary-cheek, belly laughs. What I commend in Scott’s statement, shocking and offensive as it may be, was his delivery. The absence of fear about his thoughts being wrong, and complete and utter lack of ego.

So in conclusion, I’m going to start trying to express how I feel without the “feel” so much, and worry less about verbally stepping on others’ toes or worry about being wrong. Because even if I am, so what?

If anyone is interested, here is the article that sparked this conversation: http://www.nytimes.com/2016/05/01/opinion/sunday/stop-saying-i-feel-like.html?_r=0

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