Starting a sentence with “I think” can cause suffering. This practice will often lead you to judge others and saying things you’ll regret later.
By swapping “I think” with “I see” (or what it is), others will be more open to what you have to say. It'll also save you time from not letting your emotions clutter your mind.
Here are two examples of this practice in action:
I took my two-year-old daughter to an inside playground at a mall nearby. Three minutes in, an older kid run my daughter down.
What “I think”: I think this little kid is an animal with no manners! My daughter was crying in pain, and he got back up and kept running as nothing happened. And where are the parents?! Do they think they can outsource taking care of their kids to the playground to be on their phones?
What “it is”: I see an older kid run down my daughter. I’m feeling angry. My daughter is in pain, and she needs my comfort.
I’m at work, and I’m facing an overwhelming project or situation. Often something having to do with software not doing what’s supposed to do.
What “I think”: I think that I don’t understand, why, such a primary function doesn’t work! Is the software leadership team nuts? Why are they prioritizing developers' time for new features when a core function has a known bug.
What “it is”: I see that I’m feeling angry. My team is counting on me to fix this issue. Software support can’t help me. I need to gain clarity on what’s going on. I need to unload my thoughts into three parts: situation, problem, potential solutions.
Swapping what you think for what you see is a simple practice with great benefits. Give it a try next time you catch yourself starting a sentence with “I think.”