Thursday, June 16, 2016

3 ways to handle personal attacks

There are many relatives to people suffering from substance abuse who testify that they have to put up with personal attacks, accusations and blame.

It hurts. And it may be hard not paying back "with the same coin". Results? You can imagine them yourself. It
will, of course, only get worse!

In the end, it may be these personal attacks that finally get you to end the relationship; you can no longer stand being someone else's “toilet” in which they constantly throw up their anger and disappointment. You end the relationship in order to take care of yourself. You end it, because you always feel worse every time you talk to the person.

But some people find it hard breaking the relationship. For example, if the one who's abusing is an underage child. It can also be difficult in other relationships due to strong ties and feelings towards the person with alcohol- or drug problems.

Do you recognize yourself? Read the suggestions below – they might help you in facing your loved one.

1. Don't “counterattack”!
Instead, reply with something short, but honest, for example: "I'm sorry you feel that way."
2. Use open questions!

Open questions often begin with “what”, “how”, “in what way”? The open questions will give the ball back to the person who first “attacked”. Don't go to defense.

For example:

"I'm sorry you feel that way. In what way will you be able to manage those feelings?".
"It must be very hard to feel that way. What can you do to seek help?".
"It's terrible to feel that way. How can you solve this problem?"

3. In the worst cases, avoid response
Go away, hang up the phone, put your headphones on and listen to music instead. If the person is calling you names or uses accusations against you, and you're not listening, it will have no effect. If you're consistently ignoring the person and making something better of your time than to listen and join in the fight, he/she will realise that there´s no point, since there's no “receiver”. The person gets no attention to his/her behavior. It is useless.

Remember, we need to rehearse these strategies over and over again, often for several months. If a person is used to being able to “trigger” you with attacks and blaming, it'll take some time before they understand that you're not responding to this behaviour any longer. And this'll only work if you're not fighting back. If you do, the strategies will become meaningless.

Try it out and see if you can recognize any change! And be consistent.

If you have any thoughts or questions, please send me a message on my Facebook-page: Carina Bang Author

Take care! 

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