Frus­trat­ing Con­ver­sa­tional Loops

Pasatiempo - - ADVERTISEMENT - JOE FER­GU­SON, PhD PhD Clin­i­cal Psy­chol­ogy, Field­ing Univer­sity MBA, Whar­ton School of Busi­ness

You will have no­ticed that cer­tain con­ver­sa­tions go re­peat­edly nowhere, re­gard­less of how many times you vary and re­play them. You may have one or more frus­trat­ing con­ver­sa­tional loops run­ning right now with your part­ner, chil­dren, col­leagues, friends or op­po­nents; and those frus­tra­tions are cu­mu­la­tive. If the un­der­ly­ing con­flicts are not iden­ti­fied and re­solved, th­ese loops will grow in­creas­ingly ir­ri­tat­ing, painful, and even­tu­ally cen­tral to your frus­trat­ing re­la­tion­ship. The points that each of you re­peat­edly try to make in the course of a frus­trat­ing loop, and the way that you try to make them, com­pul­sively re­flect the con­flict you are hav­ing with­out ad­dress­ing it di­rectly, much less re­solv­ing it. A sin­gle con­flict can man­i­fest it­self in many dif­fer­ent ways, which tends to dis­guise the sim­plic­ity of the un­der­ly­ing prob­lem.

Mech­a­nisms that con­trib­ute to frus­trat­ing loops in­clude sim­ple mis­un­der­stand­ing, mis­matched com­mu­ni­ca­tion styles, in­com­pat­i­ble per­son­al­ity types, pas­sive-ag­gres­sive avoid­ance, overt hos­til­ity, ma­nip­u­la­tive sophistry, ma­li­cious com­pli­ance, nag­ging, nar­cis­sism, para­noid delu­sion, jeal­ousy, envy, self­ish­ness, trick­ery, co-de­pen­dency, ad­dic­tion and per­sonal dif­fer­ences in be­liefs, pri­or­i­ties or val­ues. No mat­ter how point­less or bizarre a frus­trat­ing loop may ap­pear to be, each one rep­re­sents an im­por­tant and le­git­i­mate is­sue that one or both of you feel the need to re­solve. In or­der to dis­arm a frus­trat­ing con­ver­sa­tional loop it is first nec­es­sary to iden­tify what it is ac­tu­ally about. This is usu­ally not dif­fi­cult once you have turned your gen­uine at­ten­tion to it, but one or both of you have been avoid­ing this be­cause you are afraid of how it might turn out if you were to ac­tu­ally ad­dress the real is­sue and re­solve it. This is what keeps con­ver­sa­tional loops alive and frus­trat­ing. You may find it help­ful to con­sult with a pro­fes­sional. Trust me. Call me.

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