POSITIVE Responses to Painful Events (Part 4)

Sfloral 4 LET’S SEE –

what’s the best way to handle this?

PREVIOUS: Positive Reactions – Thinking (#3)

REVIEW Parts 1-3 — Events, Emotions, Realistic Thinking

See ACRONYM page for abbrev.


First: Let’s THINK, take a minute to breath, grab hold of our kid – if he or she is getting overwhelmed.  Being healthy does not mean we won’t periodically react in old ways, which will depend on how deep certain wounds are – like the depth of our childhood abandonment pain.
It does mean we can develop better alternative responses to difficult situations that get stronger than the pull of our damage

Second: Check in to see what emotions are being stirred.  Our actions will be based on how well we understand ourself in that moment
Third: Check mental files for a ‘pre-recorded’ words or phrase we’ve practiced for stress occasions. We can draw from the list of “Effective Responses – they really work
• Talking or being silent are both a kind of action – active or passive.  What matters is which Ego State they’re coming from

EXP: Gina was sitting in a 12-Step meeting, listening to the thin, angry blond woman in all black leather go on & on for 5 minutes about how she HATED EVERYBODY! Gina’s immediate thought (from her WIC) was to go over & sooth the woman, be a friend, commiserate….
but this time Gina’s inner Good Parent took over & said to the kid: “NO WAY! Didn’t you just hear her?? She said everybody – that includes you. You’re not exempt just because you care, & you’re not going to change her to make yourself feel safe from her anger!”

a. Say 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, perhaps a sense of irony, even identification. Who hasn’t said something stupid or insensitive?

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’d do yourself some harm
• you know the person or situation can’t be corrected or improved OR
• it’s someone you know, & they’re having a bad-hair-day
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 handle

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 care. 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 person, 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 being at fault!
It was something Sandra had to ‘swallow’ & help her WIC live with. But she’d learned from painful experience that trying to justify herself to someone with a closed mind only made a fool of herself!
It’s especially painful for us to be accused wrongly – at any time – but in this case she’d never be believed anyway, so why try doing the impossible? (“Serenity Prayer – backwards“)

NEXT: Positive Responses – Part 5 (more actions)

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