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The Real 4-Letter Word? “YOU!”


It’s every parent’s worst nightmare.


A call arrives from school, and little Johnny is in the principal’s office. “You wouldn’t believe what Johnny just said to me!” the principal’s exasperated voice says. You are shocked.


What would he have said that would have led to this? We never say naughty words at home!


Nervous, you prepare yourself for the worst. “What did Johnny say?”


The answer shocks you. “Johnny looked me in the eye and yelled ‘YOU!’ Not only that, but he also said he learned it at home - from YOU!”


When Pain Comes From Blame


Every day I sit down with couples who find their marriage, relationship, and the world falling apart at the seams. Each time we begin to discuss the problems, it seems as though the same conversations happen with a similar word included each time:


“YOU never…”

“YOU always…”

“Well, we wouldn’t be there if YOU…”


The true four-letter word that damages the most isn’t the latest swear word. When we find ourselves in difficult situations in relationships, it is tempting to immediately place the blame on the other for every bad thing we experience.


It’s a pointed finger, a silent eye roll, and a heavy “YOU” that hits the other with the force of a hurricane. Immediately, the recipient hears the blame and immediately goes on the defensive - puffing themselves up and shooting another “YOU” shot back over. On and on it goes, with nobody taking responsibility for anything.


When “YOU” becomes the four-letter word of the moment, it can be impossible to see how healing or restoration can begin to happen. Like removing a band-aid, the only way to move forward is to rip the word “YOU” out of our mouths.


Clean Out Your Mouth!


The best way to move forward from the blame-game is to remove the word “YOU” from your vocabulary. When couples or clients stop using “YOU” to shift blame and avoid responsibility, they find that they are able to finally dig deeper into their true needs. Moving from “YOU” to “I” allows individuals to speak their personal needs and enter into space where listening is allowed and encouraged. When this occurs, clients can absorb the emotions and feelings of the other person and together, begin to truly heal.


So when it comes to counseling and healing, it’s time to clean up our language and get rid of the real four-letter word forever.




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