When your mother demands that you drop everything to visit her and then accuses you of not loving her when you explain that you need to spend the weekend studying for an exam, you may feel helplessly frustrated. The same is true when a neighbor asks you to chop down a tree he doesn't like and then tells you that you're a blight on the neighborhood when you explain that you are happy to leave it alone. Coping with a person's unjustified anger can be difficult. Set boundaries to help you avoid falling prey to intimidation and guilt from angry people.
Stick to your guns. Anger can be used as a way to manipulate you into doing what another person wants you to do. If you feel this is the case, calmly point out to the person that her anger seems manipulative, advises therapist Kim Jones on her website. Let the angry person know that you're sorry that she feels bad, but you don't intend to change your mind. Remind yourself that you have the right to set boundaries in your relationships.
Validate the person's feelings and offer a solution if possible. If he's upset because you told him that you don't have time to give him a ride to work, say, "I understand that it's stressful not having a car. I hope that things turn around for you soon." Tell your friend who is angry about your refusal to lend him money, "I value our friendship too much to risk damaging it by bringing debt into it. I know that you're worried about your ability to pay your mortgage. Maybe we can put our heads together and come up with a way for you to pay off your credit cards faster."
Avoid the Person
Avoid the person if he makes a habit of losing her temper when he get what he wants from you. In a March 2012 article for "Psychology Today," psychologist Sherrie Bourg Carter refers to such individuals as "energy vampires." Two of their characteristics are being "relentlessly demanding and persistent, being unable to take no for an answer," and the tendency to blame others for their problems. Poor boundaries, negativity and creating drama are common in these personality-disordered people. Carter warns that you won't be able to change the person, so it's best to limit your contact with her and avoid being pulled into her difficulties.
Accept that a person who has poor boundaries will be angry when you don't do what he asks, as these people have difficulty seeing and respecting the wants and rights of others. Resist the urge to argue with your friend about why you are justified in refusing to babysit his two unruly children or in declining his request for help during a move. Realize that he is not angry at you as a person, but at your action -- or lack thereof. Because it is appropriate to refuse to do something that doesn't work for you, oppose any feelings of guilt or unworthiness that arise as a result of bearing the brunt of the person's anger and accusations.
Elise Wile has been a writer since 2003. Holding a master's degree in curriculum and Instruction, she has written training materials for three school districts. Her expertise includes mentoring, serving at-risk students and corporate training.
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