Last week I heard a person say she was so relieved she wouldn’t have to attend the family reunion this year because an upcoming surgery would be the perfect out. Rhymes with “I’d rather have a root canal than ______________.”
Though the surgery actually was a valid and timely excuse in this case, sometimes we put ourselves through so much needless stress because we just can’t seem to figure out how to get out of things we really don’t want to do and that may actually not be good for us to do. We don’t want to be perceived as rude by just saying “no,” though there is really nothing wrong about saying no!
One of the more practical aspects of therapy is learning how to expand our social vocabulary to say what we mean without giving offense and causing stress to ourselves. For some, this involves actually writing down appropriate responses until they become “automatic” or natural to ourselves. These responses can be truthful and protective at the same time.
For example, “I will have to think about that and get back to you.” “Let’s talk about it when we are both feeling calmer—have more time—are not so tired. “You might be right.” “So sorry that I already have another commitment.” The Parenting with Love and Logic classic, “I love you too much to argue,” may cause eye rolling, but it is both an affirmation and a rock solid end to the possibility of a child continuing to press and engage the parent.
Words count, and carefully choosing them from a strong and effective vocabulary empowers us to say what we mean, graciously.