LET’S SEE –
what’s the best way to handle this?
PREVIOUS: Positive Reactions – Thinking
REVIEW: Events, Emotions, Realistic Thinking
REMINDER: See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
4. APPROPRIATE ACTIONS Circle
First: THINK, take a minute to breath, grab a hold of your kid if it’s getting too worked up. Being healthy does not mean we won’t want to react in an old way. It does mean that we have a better alternative that is stronger than the pull of our damage.
Second: Check in to see what emotions are being stirred. Your actions will be based on how well you understand yourself at that moment.
Third: Check your mental files for a ‘pre-recorded’ word or phrase you’ve practiced for such an occasion. You can draw from the list on (see “Effective Responses”) . They really work.
• Talking or being silent are both a kind of action – active or passive. What matters is which ego state it’s coming from.
EXP: Gina was sitting in a 12-Step meeting, listening to the thin, angry blond in all black leather go on & on for 5 minutes about how she HATED EVERYBODY! Gina’s immediate reaction (from her IC) was to go over to the woman & sooth her, be a friend, commiserate… but this time her inner Good Parent took over & said to the kid: “NO WAY! Didn’t you hear her?? She said everybody – that includes you. You’re not exempt just because you care, & you aren’t going to change her to make yourself feel safe!”
BETTER WAYS to RESPOND
a. Saying Nothing – there are times when the only thing that makes any sense is to be quiet. We can give someone a quizzical or angry look or just a smile. A genuine laugh may be called for when something ridiculous or outrageous has been said, & no other response is possible! BUT NOT from anger or derision. Rather, with humor & a sense of irony.
Some reasons to not do or say anything:
• it’s not a safe time or place
• it’s not worth the effort
• others are around & you would do yourself some harm
• you know the person or situation can not be corrected or improved
• you need time to process what just happened
➼ LETTING GO of being heard, of being right, of getting what you want , of fairness… is sometimes the ONLY possibility & takes a level of emotional maturity to accept
EXP: Sandra’s sponsee asked if she’s be at Friday nite’s meeting & she said yes. That day she developed a cold & decided to stay in bed. Sat morning the sponsee called very angry: ”Why didn’t you show up last nite? You said you’d be there & I brought you flowers for your B/day! You’re so unreliable, I can’t believe you stood me up….” Sandra told her she was sick, but the woman didn’t believe her. A week later, when they saw each other, the sponsee started up again, berating her. Sandra just stood there & listened. She decided that, knowing this woman, nothing she could say would make a difference. So after a few minutes she said: “OK, bye” & left. That was the end of their association.
✶ Sandra was aware that by not making the effort to convince her sponsee of her innocence, the other woman believed Sandra was agreeing with her & admitting fault! This is something Sandra has to ‘swallow’ & help her IC live with. But she’d learned from painful experience that justifying herself to anyone with a closed mind only made a fool of herself! It’s painful to be accused wrongly – at any time, but here she’d never be believed anyway, so why try doing the impossible?
b. Speaking Up
For this to be effective it has to come from the Healthy Adult ego state. When we do that, it breaks the spell of tit-for-tat between the WIC interactions of the any 2 people.
EXP: Joe & Bev are in a good long-term relationship. In the early days when they were ironing out some kinks, Joe occasionally expressed frustration with himself: “I’m no good for nothing!” One time, annoyed with Bev, he said “You’re no good for nothing”. She didn’t comment, knowing he was projecting his self-hate, plus, she could feel in every cell of her body that the remark did not apply to her. When Joe said it again on another occasion, Bev calmly replied: “You know, that’s not a nice thing to say to anyone, Joe”. And he never said it again!
c. Walking Away
There are times when physically leaving is the best option. It may only happen once in a whole relationship – but it is a way of saying
— I won’t put up with this but I won’t fight with you
— I can’t stop you from being a jerk, I just don’t have to put up with it
— it’s better if I leave than say something I’ll regret
— you’re obviously not being an adult right now (either coming from bad parent or WIC) & I refuse to interact with you until you are
NEXT: Positive Responses – Part 5 (more actions)