Tuesday, February 21, 2012

The Importance of Pronouns

I just read a fascinating article in the February 25, 2012 issue of World magazine. The article discussed the issue of self-focus. It was based on research by James Pennebaker, who writes for Harvard Business Review. Pennebaker used a sophisticated computer system to study 400,000 written items. He discovered that people who use “I” statements a lot are so self-focused that they may actually have underlying psychological issues. To quote the article, “Pronouns tells us where people focus their attention. If someone uses the pronoun I, it’s a sign of self-focus.” He went on to conclude that “depressed people use the word I much more often than emotionally stable people.” Pennebaker also noted that people who committed suicide had the word I far more often in their poems and letters than other poets and writers.

As our society has become more self-focused, we have become less emotionally healthy. Perhaps instead of being so focused on what we want out of life, we might begin to ask what others need. As we learn to turn out attention away from ourselves and toward helping others, we will find our life has more purpose, fulfillment and joy. Perhaps that is what Jesus was trying to tell us in Luke 6:31 “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”

Read my other post on a similar subject: Self-Focused and Rude

Read about the danger of "I" statements in sermons: I Versus You Syndrome

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