HALP! I am having a break down in communication with my mother. It is most apparent recently when she attempts to give me driving lessons. She is very "don't do that" "you did that wrong" and when I tell her that her language is very discouraging to me she's doesn't even try to correct it.
Basically, I feel unheard and this puts me in the worst place because then I second guess myself and feel like maybe I am exaggerating and should just try to listen but at the same time she habitually projects negative commentary about my driving, my appearance, and my behavior. I feel like if I dont do everything her way, exactly, then I am worthless to her? I know she is trying to be constructive but for some reason it is just hurtful?
I would essentially like to able to communicate more clearly how I am feeling without panicking, feeling scared, or detered to share my opinion. I literally feel myself getting immediately angry or defensive when I talk to her and I'd like be able to understand why and how I can fix it. I understand that I can't change the way she approaches me but maybe I can change the way I approach her? Elaborate suggestions are welcome!!
-------------------- [...]But I who am bound by my mirror/as well as my bed/see causes in color/as well as sex/and sit here wondering/which me will survive/all these liberations. --Audre Lorde Posts: 14 | From: Depends | Registered: Jun 2009
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First off, I want to check in, since you said you're worrying about panicking and feeling scared when you talk to your mom. Is this just because you feel like talking to her about her criticism and negativity is stressful (which is totally understandable)? If you feel genuinely unsafe talking to your mom about her negative comments, we can help you with that, but I wouldn't advise you to do what I'm going to suggest below just yet.
Assuming that you feel generally safe approaching your mom about this: something that might help is initiating a conversation about her communication style at a time when you aren't in the middle of a stressful situation like driving or when you're feeling hurt immediately after. If you can pick a time when you're both feeling calm and composed and then bring this up with her, it might be a big help. I find that the worst time for me to try to talk about big stressful problems is when I'm feeling the emotional effects of those issues most strongly; sometimes it's tough to wait a little bit to cool off before I try to address them, but it does help me. Giving concrete examples and how they're making you feel can be useful. "Mom, when you told me I messed up when we were out driving yesterday, it made me upset. Can you suggest better ways to [park, or make a u-turn, or whatever] instead of just telling me how I did it wrong?" And in fact, what you said above would work too. "I know you're trying to be constructive, but [when you said this] I just felt hurt." If you have a hard time talking about these things at all, it might help to even write down some notes to look at. It might sound silly but if you worry about forgetting exactly what you want to say, that can be a way to feel more confident that you'll be telling your mom what you intend to instead of getting flustered partway through.
Are there other adults in your life who might be willing to help you learn to drive? Even if you find ways to talk to your mom that are less stressful, it could be a nice break for both of you if someone else helps you with this. I don't know if it would be feasible, but if you have another relative or trusted adult friend this could help take some of the stress out of your interactions in the short term.
Posts: 1137 | From: San Francisco | Registered: Jan 2013
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