How can I avoid arguing or yelling?
Fighting rarely encourages positive change in a loved one. Arguing or yelling provokes defensiveness, which undermines motivation for change. If you’re in the habit of arguing, consider these steps to diffuse the situation.
1. Recognize Ambivalence
The first step in avoiding arguing or yelling is coming to terms with your loved one’s ambivalence. This means that they have mixed feelings, and are likely struggling with accepting their substance use.
Backing off a bit will give them a chance to see their ambivalence for what it is instead of being defensive with you. They may want to believe what they are doing is okay because the benefits outweigh the costs. Arguing with them won't help.
2. Approach the Problem as a Dilemma
The more they attempt to contain their mixed feelings, the more likely they are to lash out at you rather than come to terms with them. Perhaps seeing this as a dilemma instead of an argument would help them to accept their mixed feelings for what they are and discuss them.
Instead of arguing, open yourself up to seeing their situation from multiple points of view. When you invite a loved one to acknowledge their mixed feelings openly, they may be able to discuss them without being defensive.
3. Practice Open Communication
Practice open communication strategies that are more effective than arguing, such as active listening. Hear what your loved one has to say and ask questions. Practice empathy for their situation. Feeling understood can help alleviate the stress of a situation.
If you label this person's mixed feelings as denial, you can push them away. You can diffuse a potential argument and help your loved one to consider changing their behavior with open communication and avoid the argument.