As social beings, we define who we are in part, by, and through the relationships we have. Most of us interact with an assortment of people on a daily basis, from our most intimate relationships to strangers on the street. Obviously, how involved we are with certain individuals will color the level and intensity of our interactions with them. There are those people with whom we get along quite well while there are those who may be harder to connect and communicate with, who may give us an emotional run for our money.
We are often dependent upon others for our happiness, our security (emotionally, financially, and any other way), and sometimes for our safety. We often look to others to fill our needs. When these others are supportive, encouraging, caring, and giving we may feel fairly satisfied in our life. But when those we are attached to are judgmental and critical, even aggressive and abusive toward us, we may find ourselves in conflict, caught between the need to have these people in our life for whatever reason, and satisfying our own needs.
These are some things to consider when you find yourself caught up in an interaction/confrontation where you feel your personal integrity is being challenged.
Focus on what this relationship really means to you.
Do you always need to be agreeable, to make no waves, to go along in order to please this person and to keep the peace? Do you perceive that there may be a high price to pay if you disagree or challenge them? Do you really need this person’s approval? Is all the trouble keeping them happy, as they challenge you, really worth the effort?
Change the focus of the interaction
Try to understand what the other person is feeling/thinking/trying to convey to you. Is this the way they interact with many people, not just you? Is it their usual way to be critical, to insult, to blame or shame? Maybe that person hasn’t mastered how to communicate in a healthy way. Perhaps they lack certain social skills and feel the only way they will be heard and paid attention to is by being rude or aggressive in their language, or by bullying to get their way. Perhaps, they have issues with relationships in general, with boundaries, with seeing things as either all good or bad, right or wrong.
Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly
Don’t make assumptions about judgment or criticism seemingly directed at you. Maybe it’s not about you at all, but rather about them and their own perceptions projected onto you. In fact, it’s almost always about them, their issues, their needs, and their desire to control you and/or a situation.
Take the time to rein in your emotions and assess what’s really happening before you respond.
In general, it’s a good idea to create a healthy personal space around yourself. That’s your space. No one is permitted within it unless you allow them to enter into it.) When you create a space/buffer between yourself and another person, personal boundaries have less of a chance of being crossed and/or blurred.