Watch your tongue

Joey Garcia

Society teaches us to be understanding of women and premenstrual-syndrome mood swings, but do we give enough attention to teaching everyone to control their tongues as well as their fists? There are some women who actually dare men to abuse them physically so they can use it against them. Most people have enough common sense not to mouth off to a drunken stranger in a bar, but they think they can say any reckless thing to a lover, family member or friend without considering the possible consequences. When men ask raging, nagging women to please lower their voices, to stop nagging or yelling, and the women won’t honor these requests, what can men do?

You can stop expecting to control others. (It’s hopeless.) You can stop trying to analyze and repair the problem. (It may be theirs to solve.) You can turn in your E ticket and get off the emotional roller coaster. (Relief!) I can completely understand the desire to mend a disagreement. In an argument with someone I love, I definitely want to kiss the boo-boo and make everything better. But if I tried to do that when the tension level indicated a physical-violence alert, I would be playing hero-martyr-savior. There is a reason these roles are best left to saints.

I have heard men and women confess they baited others in order to escalate arguments to the levels of violence that became most familiar during childhood. Those who escalate arguments lack impulse control. So do we, if we respond with physical violence. Our choice is simple: listen or leave. Either way, we eventually learn that we cannot take away their suffering. It is only alleviated when they choose to heal.

When faced with raging, nagging or yelling women or men, admit to yourself that you are uncomfortable with their behavior. Later, when the situation is safe, share your discomfort. If you can’t talk to the person who was out of control, then tell your therapist or best friend. In this way, you won’t deny or minimize your feelings. Because post-fight revelations are emotionally intimate, your relationship pattern may be one in which emotional intimacy is developed primarily through conflict. Or, if one of you fears intimacy, that person might subconsciously cause an eruption when intimacy deepens. These are issues for therapy. Counseling also can help you to understand why you choose to be in relationship with those who rage and nag.

I complain a lot. However, when I look at the big picture of my life, it doesn’t warrant complaining. I have it better than most, and I am aware of this when I look at the world. It helps for about a minute. My friends also complain a lot. It’s usually easier to join in, even if their complaining annoys me. Suggestions?

Complaining is the primary language of the victim. When we believe we are powerless to change our attitudes, behaviors and circumstances, we complain. Subconsciously, it means we want to be rescued and want someone to take care of us. Try this: Rescue yourself by determining whose idea of success you adopted. Then, stop competing with the rest of the world. Share what you can and practice gratitude daily for what you have. When your friends lament their lives, abstain. Instead, listen to their stories and silently say a prayer on their behalf.

Meditation of the week
Famed advertising executive Jay Conrad Levinson once said the 10 most persuasive words in the English language were: free, sale, now, secrets, who, yes, benefits, announcing, how and fast. Announcing: (Your name here) is now free from secrets because he or she said, “Yes!” to the sale of (your problem here) and got benefits fast. Who’s next?

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