2009-01-09 / Columnists

The Inner Voice

Commentary by Marilyn Gelfand

How do you react when you feel a strong emotion taking hold of you?

While some of us have difficulty controlling bad tempers, others choose to withdraw and stay away from people with whom we feel uncomfortable. It may feel easier to withdraw than to confront someone and say "Don't do that again." We keep away from someone, like a clam, and then that person may or may not understand or realize what is going on inside you. If it is someone important in your life, it might be a good idea to tell that individual that "You hurt me." It might be helpful to say "Stop it." If the person hears what you said and then makes changes in behavior or tries to make amends, then you know that the individual is trying. If, on the other hand, your words are ignored, then again you can see from where this individual is coming. Perhaps you need to explain it differently if the person really doesn't get what you are saying. It is important to communicate so that the one you are talking to. Everyone sees things differently so you cannot expect everyone to understand why you act the way you do. I have a friend who thinks that no one can hear her when she has a problem unless she yells at the person. She thinks if she just states her case, no one will change. She believes that you have to scream murder to be heard to catch the other's attention. If someone yells at me, I feel that person has no respect for me, and I will tune out what he or she says. We must look at who we are talking to and how the message will be received.

There doesn't have to be only one approach for all people. It is much better to firmly state the problem or how you feel, and then wait to see how the other responds.

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