For most of my young adult and now adult life, I'm having more and more difficulty taking control of the resentment that seems to build up as the result of my inability to communicate. I'm not sure if there's an overlap between the two, but I can't remember a time when I'd feel one without the other.
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (16 answers total) 17 users marked this as a favorite
For background, I'm a female in my mid-twenties. I have a good sized social circle and don't have a difficult time meeting people or making acquaintances and friends. Friends and colleagues have described me as outgoing and charming. However, I do struggle with anxiety that fluctuates from high to low, but hide it very well. It may be important to note that I'm an only child (please, discard speculative generalizations about being an only child; anecdotes are welcome.), and growing up,my parents were on neither end of the extremely strict or extremely laid-back parenting spectrum. They have and still encourage and support me, but have never pushed me in my educational and professional endeavors. Not currently dating, as work and professional studies (both in law) consume the most of my time.
First: While my personality comes across as confident, even headstrong, I have a problem speaking up for what I want, or what I feel. I'm no pushover, but this attitude has led to situations where I feel discomfort or unhappiness, but continue with the status quo because some mental block stops me communicating what I'm really feeling. There was a brief period in the last 2 years where I became much more confident and good at communicating difficult emotions, but objectively speaking, I've since reverted back to my old ways, and these anxieties have only gotten worse.
Second: If something doesn't sit right (e.g. toxic friendship or grown out relationship; see examples below), my natural inclination is to sit back and seethe, instead of communicate or take some worthwhile action to mitigate the situation. I waver back and forth between saying something and cooking in my own angry juices. More often than not, I do the latter.
Example 1 - The Relationship With Expiration Date That Had Long Passed
In my last long term relationship (lasting ~6 years, we broke up 3 years ago), a good percentage of our arguments resulted from my end, due to the fact that I felt he wasn't "doing enough" for himself. My ex was a bit older than me, but had taken longer to kickstart his studies and career. At the time we were together, I was finishing college, working part-time, and preparing for grad school. It was difficult to strike a balance between being helpful and encouraging to being harmful. I'd check in about his studies, about his job applications, prep him for interviews, ask my industry connections to see if they knew of any jobs. I realize I was nagging and that the relationship had gone way, way past its expiration date, but it was easier to try to "fix" it rather than recognize the incompatibility and move on.
Example 2 - The Potentially Toxic Friend
Went on vacation with another friend overseas. Long story short, she was incredibly moody and unreasonably so for nearly the entirety of it. She'd become visibly peeved if she didn't know where we were eating for lunch and make comments like ; likewise if a train ride took too long. Even though I was pissed beyond belief, I never called her out on it, choosing instead to let the frustration in me fester. After returning from the trip, I all but went radio silent on her. Weeks later, she brought up her behavior on the trip and apologized. It was only then that I directly expressed a modicum of what I had felt on the trip to her. I met up with her recently and though it was only dinner, I was drained and wary at the end of it due to the noticeable moodiness and one-upping. I didn't say anything.
During the few times that another friend asked to borrow money, I had a difficult time saying no. I refused only when she had already borrowed a significant amount and had not made an attempt to pay the debt (lesson learned). We ceased communication for awhile, but have resumed the friendship over the last year. I am wary and keeping myself in check as much as possible.
I have yet to ask for a raise at my job. I've been there for about 3 years now. I have a close relationship with my boss, and objectively know that I've more than put in my dues. However, when family or friends ask whether I've pushed for a raise yet, my default response is either: "It's been too busy," or "There's no way I'd get it, the industry is dismal and similar positions pay for way less." It isn't so much the monetary aspect that bothers me so much as the fact that I've talked myself out from even trying for something.
So, my question:
How do I break what feels like a vicious cycle of inaction ==> unhealthy thoughts? Specifically, how to neutralize the harsh resentment that arises?
Thanks so much.