I’ve been watching a lot of commentary YouTube (which I’m not sure is the best idea) & I have found that, along with my own experiences with communicating with others, words seem to be losing their meaning. When people respond to an issue or direct offense, it usually reflects how the situation makes them feel & neglects what has actually been said or what has transpired.
It’s led to the overuse and/or misuse of words like “attack,” “gaslight,” & “abuse,” which can turn absolute truths into objective ones. For example, (TW) being sexually assaulted is an attack; being challenged or criticized for a statement made on social media is not an attack, especially when the option to disengage exists. It may feel like one based on what is being said, how what is being said makes you feel, & the timing of the statement(s) towards you, but it is not an attack in my opinion. It seems to be more important in these instances to use words that evoke an emotional response to get to a desired behavior or outcome from others than to communicate effectively.
Additionally, I have noticed increased instances of people understanding an issue or person based on their own beliefs, biases, & experiences in a way that may lead to a misinterpretation of the situation or invalidate what is actually happening/what the other person is expressing.
I’ll use myself as an example.
I could say something like, “I feel depressed today,” to which someone might understand as “you depress me” & take offense. I’ve expressed a problem & someone has interpreted what I said as an accusation – as if they are the problem. When they respond, it won’t be out of a desire to understand why I’m depressed, but out of a desire to defend themselves which will likely make me more depressed & less likely to be vulnerable to the person going forward. While I understand that this person might be viewing me through the lens of their beliefs & experiences, it doesn’t negate the potential damage done to the relationship.
I’ve been the person who does this & it doesn’t make relationship with me any fun at all, to say the very least. I had to learn to take a beat before responding to someone if I was triggered by what they said, wait to respond, or ask for clarity when needed. I also had to go to therapy to learn that I can understand someone’s position without invalidating who I am or what I’ve been through, especially if the person & my experiences are unrelated.
A few important things to note (for clarity):
– Context is important.
– Environmental upbringing & adverse childhood experiences should be considered. We can’t act like that doesn’t influence our understanding & responses as adolescents & adults.
– There is always room for feelings & emotions, but having them without being intentional about seeking clarity & processing them in healthy ways can create more stress or trauma; damaging the relationship with self & others.
The overall point I’m attempting to make here is that it is important to make your best attempt to have a healthy balance between emotion & logic. Earlier on in my life, my emotions would get so overwhelming that it would damage my relationships so I overcorrected in order to not be as expressive & keep people around, only to realize I was suppressing the natural & healthy need to express emotions. We shouldn’t be reckless with our emotions nor should we keep them under wraps.
It’s still a learning process; because life happens & we’re imperfect while experiencing this life we’re not going to get it right every time. There is grace in the learning & healing process as long as we’re continuing to pursue healing. The problem persists when we’re not honest with ourselves about our need to heal, if we’re isolation or not around people who can be honest with us or desire to see us at our best selves, and when we’re too quick to respond without understanding.
– Take a second (or 12) to respond.
– Ask for clarity.
– If it’s a major issue that evokes emotion, do your research, then speak from experience & education.
– Be honest.
– Give space for healthy emotions.
– If you struggle with expressing your emotions or need a safe space to do so, here are some resources.
– Finish well!