How do you deal with Anxi
What is Fragilizing & how does it affect relationships?
Photographed by Savana Ogburn.
Imagine you're invited to a party that you absolutely don't feel like going to. But your friends want you absolutely have with you and are quickly offended if you cancel. So you jump over your shadow again and go to that stupid party, even if there are literally a million things you would rather do during this time. Does that sound familiar to you? This behavior is called Fragilizing - you are doing something that you do not want to do so as not to hurt the other person or maybe even make them angry. Especially people who suffer from anxiety have a particularly strong tendency to deal with potential conflict situations in this way. It doesn't matter who your counterpart is. Fragilizing can occur in any type of relationship, be it a partnership, friendship, parent-child relationship, or even a relationship with a pet (if your dog's googly eyes are staring at you, it's really hard too Not to put in an extra lap when going out with him).
While at first glance it seems as if you can avoid disputes through fragilizing or resolve conflicts particularly selflessly, it doesn't really help the parties involved in the relationship, explains Dr. Debra Pillow, clinical director of Light on Anxiety, a therapy center for cognitive behavioral disorders in Chicago.
Most of the time people act like this because they are afraid that someone is very sensitive and cannot cope with the disappointment, but that is not even remotely true. People with an anxiety disorder often have the tendency to always assume the worst-case scenario, in this case that your friends will be mad at you forever if you don't attend something as trivial as a small party are. The real joke is, "You tell yourself to do this because you don't want to cause displeasure to other people, but in reality you do it to reduce your own discomfort," explains Dr. Pillow. You feel uncomfortable about being the cause of other people's bad moods, she adds. And by bowing to the situation, you believe you have escaped a greater evil.
Gradually you avoid more and more situations or conversations, even if they are actually close to your heart, just to avoid an unpleasant argument, says the expert - and that is exactly the real bad side effect. "Constant fragilizing will make you feel unfulfilled in many situations," says Dr. Pillow. "In addition, one of the most important lessons in life is how to deal with complicated or uncomfortable situations so that we are strengthened in our own opinion-forming."
Just to be clear: if you tend to be fragilizing, it doesn't mean that something is wrong with you, and it doesn't mean that you just let yourself be pushed around. You just save yourself a few awkward evenings if you stop doing it. If you decide to ban fragilizing from your life, it is important to start with small steps first. The expert advises you to initially only concentrate on one aspect or a relationship where you want to change your behavior. For example, the next time you go out to eat, you no longer say, “You can choose where we go”, but instead speak from whatever you feel like. “Find specific ways to be tolerant of other people's displeasure,” she adds. And of course your loved ones get upset every now and then for not getting what they want - but this really isn't the end of the world. "Sometimes a person is just an insulted liver sausage - but nothing more than that," says Dr. Pillow (If the person's outbursts of anger make you feel insecure or even scared, this strategy is of course out of the question).
In life, and especially in relationships, you sometimes have to have a tough conversation or grapple with disappointment in order to grow. That's why it's not bad to be a little more decisive from time to time. In your heart of hearts you know that your friends will survive if they have to go to a party without you.
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