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  • Writer's pictureDeric Hollings

Iss-ME vs. Iss-YOU

Updated: Feb 24, 2023

In my youth, I learned a concept from my dad that has served me well throughout life. As well, it’s a technique I use with some clients when I practice Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT).

The binary perspective taught to me relates to issues people face. Is this an iss-ME or an iss-YOU?

An iss-ME is a problem that concerns me. I needn’t make my challenge a concern for others. Why? Because it’s my issue, not yours.

An iss-YOU is a matter concerning you, not me. You needn’t transfer your mess to me. Why? This is a you issue, not my problem.

I imagine someone reading this may scoff at the lesson herein. How dare a person educated, trained, and independently licensed as a counselor and social worker assume such a crass position?

After all, it’s quite popular in the current timeline to project one’s problems onto others, shifting blame to categories of people or systems of so-called power and privilege, and reject personal responsibility and accountability in favor of a collectivist worldview. Those are issYOUs, not iss-MEs.

“But Deric, how could you be so insensitive? Not everyone is to blame for their circumstances.” Such contention to the iss-ME vs. iss-YOU dichotomy serves as little more than a strawman characterization of what I’m promoting.

When working with clients, I don’t seek to create precious victims, special classes of people, or self-entitled individuals to whom society supposedly owes something. I’m not endorsing psychobabble nonsense which keeps one ensnared in unhelpful or unhealthy irrational and extreme attitudes.

“Deric, it sounds like you’re promoting rightwing talking points, like an ultra-MAGA fuckwit!” I’ve no time for ad hominem fallacies. I’m not here to help people feel better, though to help them get better. This is how I accomplish that goal.

I work with clients so that they may take ownership of their issues. This is done by first acknowledging how little control we have and then by disputing irrational beliefs.

For example, suppose Wilhelmina attends a therapy session, stating that she “can’t stand” how “awful” she thinks it is that her partner will vote Republican in the November midterm elections. Is this an iss-ME (Wilhelmina’s problem) or an iss-YOU (the problem of her partner)?

Since it’s Wilhelmina who’s reporting the low frustration tolerance—convincing herself that she “can’t stand” the thought of having a no good, low down, shitty conservative under the same roof as her—this is an iss-ME. It is Wilhelmina’s problem.

Having assigned proper ownership of the matter, steps may then be taken to resolve the problem. Wilhelmina could dispute her irrational assumption by asking any number of the following questions:

· In what way might I be wrong by demanding that my partner vote as I do?

· What is the evidence for or against my idea of shared political interest?

· Isn’t it true that some people change their political perspectives over time?

· Am I confusing what I want [description] with what I demand [prescription]?

· What gives me the right to hold others accountable to my demands?

· Could it be that my interpretations of this situation are too far removed from reality to be accurate?

· Would I appreciate it if my partner suddenly demanded that act in a way that was against my interests?

· Am I thinking in black-or-white, all-or-nothing terms?

· Have I considered the nuanced matters related to this situation?

· If there is no room for negotiation or compromise, can it actually be true that I can’t stand living with my partner if voting Republican is the ultimate outcome?

· Am I exaggerating what I think living with a conservative may be like?

· Am I taking anything out of context?

· Isn’t it true that the term “partner” implies a union, unlike a servant to my whims that rigid and extreme attitudes dictate?

· Is it possible that I’m behaving like a dictator, of sorts, and perhaps someone with whom I wouldn’t want to reside?

· Is it possible that I’m thinking in terms of certainties instead of probabilities?

· Are my judgments based on feelings rather than facts?

· How do I know that the manner in which I vote will even lead to the change for which I hope?

· Am I focusing on irrelevant factors?

· Is this an iss-ME or an iss-YOU? If the former, how might I better be able to deal with this matter than how I’ve approached the topic? If the latter, couldn’t I simply accept that not always will I get what I want?

The technique my dad taught me has paid off in many ways throughout my life. Also, I find that clients who are willing to engage in REBT disputation tend to have improved outcomes when facing discomfort, demonstrated herein by Wilhelmina.

How might you benefit from considering iss-ME vs. iss-YOU matters?

If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.

As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.

At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!

Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW


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