Why Lashing Out Backfires–Even When You Are Right

Last post told Caroline’s story. She was falsely accused, attacked, actually, and awakened in the middle of the night for “discussions” until she finally lost it. I contended that under such circumstances, her behavior was not at all crazy, but normal. “Thank you, so much Dr. Deb,” Caroline [I’ve made up that name] wrote to me. “Now, I feel normal. I was so badly treated, that of course I screamed. Sheesh, anyone would scream.” Not A Free Card And I’m sitting here thinking, “Uh-oh, now people think I just gave them a free card to scream when they’re provoked.” So please allow me to clarify myself. Part of our wiring is to express emotions. It is normal that some of those emotions may include outbursts of hysteria or out-of-control behavior. However, that does not make any of these behaviors good, right or acceptable. Not only that. These behaviors are harmful because they hurt the other person so much, dangerous because they escalate, and self-destructive because they always end up shooting the person who exhibited them in the foot. You’re Helping Youself Lose Your Battle — And The Relationship What I mean is that when you lose it and lash out at someone, it is guaranteed that now you will for sure not get the very thing you wanted. It makes the whole job of straightening out whatever the problem was even harder. That’s because it (1) “proves” to your spouse that the problem is you, not him (or her), (2) makes your spouse angry with you in return, and (let’s have a drum-roll here) (3) it doesn’t even address...
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