An authority figure in my youth probably suggested it. I believed them and for a long time, I did what they told me to do. I don’t know what changed, but one day I started noticing when other people did it. I started noticing when I did it. It started to annoy me.
Some well-meaning moron came up with the idea. He/she started telling people, especially girls, that if they wanted to express a thought, they should preface it with, “I feel.” I THINK this is the height of stupidity.
There’s a world of difference between thinking and feeling. Let’s pull out our dictionaries.
- To be emotionally affected by
- To have a conscious mind, to some extent of reasoning, remembering experiences, making rational decisions, etc.
- To employ one’s mind rationally and objectively in evaluating or dealing with a given situation
Learning to think requires discipline and hard work. Feelings are natural expressions of instincts and desires. You don't need to squash out all your feelings and you absolutely need to train yourself to think rationally. Most importantly, you need to recognize the difference between the two actions.
I’ve noticed women using “I feel” more often than men. Especially feminists, which is incomprehensible to me given that the most vocal faction insists that men and women are the same. I understand why women use “I feel." They don't want to be seen as bossy or shrewish. I just think, feminist or not, they defeat their own purpose. Somewhere along the way, we convinced ourselves that if we present an idea using “I feel,” we would come off as less aggressive and people would be more likely to listen. Market research supports this.
But real life isn’t a commercial. If you have a thought, express it as a thought. If you have a feeling, express it as a feeling. Be honest with people. When someone notices you’re using the words “I feel” as a manipulative tactic (and it is a manipulative tactic, even if that isn’t your intention), you undermine any influence you may have with that person in the long run.
Instead of using a manipulative tactic to get your way, be honest with your opinion and open to debate if people disagree. If you can show people that you are willing to be both honest and flexible, you will earn trust and respect.
So to sum up (and to explain it better than my somewhat inflammatory title), stop using the wrong terms to describe thinking and feeling. It’s better to be honest than to be manipulative, even if honesty takes more effort.