After 25 years of practicing family
psychology. I’ve learned a few things about how to deal with family members
who put you down. This might be happening to you. By the time you finish this video,
you’ll know exactly what to do about it. 2 specific ideas for you today about
how to deal with family members who put you down. And the first one comes from
all of the work that I’ve done with little kids over the years. I sometimes
work with children who are being bullied or teased or otherwise tormented. Not
severe abuse but you know, the kind of stuff that just is irritating and
annoying. And I came up with this idea that really works well for little kids.
It occurred to me this is probably going to work really well for all of us. It’s
called the tickle factor. Have you ever done this? Where you’re tickling someone
right? Maybe one of your kids or sibling or grandkids even. And the tickling is
fun, why? Because they freak out. You tickle someone and they’re like, “Ahh!” And they
freak out. And it’s fun. It’s a little rush of power that you have that kind of
control over another person. Tickling. Have you ever tickled someone or tried
to tickle someone who is not ticklish at all? Yeah. You’ve tried this too
haven’t you? So, am I. How does that fly? Tickle, tickle,
tickle, tickle, tickle. And they look at you like, “What are you doing?”
Tickle, tickle, tickle. “Ew.” And it’s so awkward that you stop
tickling them. Do you continue to tickle someone who’s not ticklish? No. Why?
Because it’s no fun. You don’t get any kind of a reaction. Think about what
we’re applying this to today. Family members who put you down. Why would they
do that? Probably because of the rush they get. The false sense of power that
happens when they see you freak out. Or even if you’re not freaking out.
It’s just that false sense of power or control that they get when they do that.
And it’s probably pathological. But we’re not talking about them, we’re talking
about you. What can you do about this thing? The first thing that I would
encourage you to do is think about the tickle factor and let’s see if we can
disconnect the reaction from it. We take away the response. And that has them
feeling awkward. To do this you’re going to need to take a little inventory of
how you’ve been responding to that family member who’s been putting you
down. Here’s a quick example from one of my clients. This is a full-grown adult
mother of 3 who is having a problem with her own mother putting her down and
judging her parenting skills. I don’t know if you can relate to that or not.
But this is the position my client was in. As she took an inventory of her own
behavior, she could see that when mom criticized her parenting, her response
typically was defensiveness. She’d try to explain, “Well, I’m doing that because…” Or “I
read in this book that it’s really good to…” And she was defending her position
as a parent. Well, that didn’t have mom stopping in her criticism. She continued
to do it. So, my client chose to change her own response
and disconnect the tickle factor. She no longer was ticklish, so to speak
to her mother’s criticism. And it had a profound effect on how her mother
treated her after that. She simply disconnected the response. Mom would
criticize her parenting and she would just not respond. I call this the
strategic non-response. It’s a powerful idea.
Think about the tickle factor and how that might serve you in this situation.
The second idea that I promised to share with you I got from Pamela Jett. She is a
friend of mine who is a communication specialist. And she works with people all
the time on how to interact with people in a healthier way.
Pamela suggested to me that we can handle this the same way we would handle
a sniper. Wait a minute? A sniper? Yeah. Because a sniper takes potshots at you,
right? So, this is kind of what we’re dealing with. It’s an emotional sniper.
And Pam gave 3 steps that you can use in your communication with that
person that will put you in a very different position. Here’s what they are.
Identify verify and accept. Identify, verify and accept. Let’s go back to the
same example I shared with you earlier about my client whose mother was
criticizing her parenting. Identify is when you reflect back to the person
who’s taking potshots at you what’s happening. And you do it in this format:
“When this happens, I feel…” Okay? “When this happens I feel…” Whatever. So, in the
example. “Mom, when I hear criticisms about my parenting, I feel betrayed and unloved
and unsupported.” Okay, you pick whatever feeling words match for you. That’s not
an accusation. She’s not saying, “Mom, you’re making me feel this way.” No.
“Mom, when I hear criticism about my parenting, I feel betrayed, unloved
unsupported.” Okay, that’s step one, Identify. Here’s step 2, this one is
brilliant. And I love that Pam teaches it this way because it is a powerful
intervention. Verify. “Is that what you were going for? Is that what you were
after? Is that what you intended?” Pick one of those sentences and throw it in right
after the identify sentence. “Mom, when I hear criticism about my parenting
I feel unloved and unsupported. Is that what you were going for?” Now, don’t say it
in an accusatory way. It’s simply to put the ball back in their court. Now, 99% of
the time when you go to that step, whoever is in that interaction with you
is going to backtrack. They’re going to backpedal.
“Oh, no, no, no, no. No. That’s not what…” Or they might try to turn it back on you. “Oh,
you’re so sensitive.” Whatever. Whatever their response, even if they validate it.
“Yeah, that’s what I was going for.” Wow! Wouldn’t that be interesting. Most people
won’t say that. Whatever their response is you simply go to step 3. Accept.
Sounds like this, “Okay.” That’s it. You simply say okay no matter what their
response was. This is so powerful because it puts people on notice that the way
they’re treating you has an impact and that you are willing to set some limits
around it. Powerful stuff. Relationships can be tricky. There’s a whole positive
relationship resources playlist here on the channel. And as you weren’t watching
this, I bet you had some ideas about how to apply it. Share some of your ideas down below in the comments. Let’s get some
discussion going about how to do this better.