Interview: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D.
Dr. Cira has worked with hundreds of people struggling with suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately, she also had a family member commit suicide, so she understands the tragedy of this both personally and professionally.
From Dr. Colleen Cira
How to Confront a Friend:
Sometimes with our friendships, we tend to sweep things under the rug, or we complain about them to other people, but never address it with the person. Many of us struggle with conflict in our friendships because we’re just not used to it! We see our partners ALL THE TIME, we may even live
and/or parent with them, so conflict is something that probably happens on the daily with our romantic partner. It doesn’t have to be a blow-out, but we’re all pretty used to feeling irritated, hurt or angry at our partner. But our friendships? Well, we get a lot less practice being in conflict in our friendships so we haven’t had nearly as many opportunities to manage it in this arena of our lives.
Here are some constructive conversations that we can have with our friends when we are feeling offended, upset, or angered by something they’ve done:
- The first really important thing is to do is identify that something has bothered you! That may sound basic, but sometimes we don’t take the time to figure out what we’re feeling or why, so that’s a necessary first step.
- Once you know you’re feeling upset because of a friend, the next thing you can do is figure out the story you’re telling yourself about whatever happened. This is a Brene Brown concept and essentially is about articulating what YOU think happened. So if you’re upset because you sent your friend a vulnerable text and they never responded, the story you’re telling yourself might sound like this: “The story I’m telling myself is that I feel like you didn’t respond to my text because you don’t care about me as much anymore now that you’ve gotten closer to so-in-so. I’m feeling left out and rejected and this is just one more indication that I’m right.”
- Next, now that you know how you feel, why you’re feeling that way, and what the story is that you have been telling yourself, it puts you in a good position to say something to your friend. By phrasing your concern as “the story I’m telling myself,” you demonstrate that you are a) taking responsibility for your own feelings, and b) open to a different interpretation of the situation. By approaching your friend with the “the story I’m telling myself” start-up, you set-up the conversation for success by being vulnerable, honest, and curious.
- Finally, after you have shared how you feel, LISTEN. This is the tough part; So many of us only close our mouths in order to figure out what we’re going to say next. But in order for this to end well, you need to actually listen to what your friend has to say and take it in before you respond. Literally, take a couple of breaths while thinking about what your friend said before you say anything back.
If you’re still feeling scared or angry, despite the fact that your friend heard you and tried to address your concerns in a kind way, maybe you still need a moment before you can productively engage in this conversation. So do that! Take a moment, an hour or a day and then circle back to your friend once you’re feeling less reactive and more open.
Available for Interviews: Dr. Colleen Cira, Psy.D.
Dr. Colleen Cira received both her Masters and Doctorate from The Illinois School of Professional Psychology and is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist in the State of Illinois. She’s the Founder and Executive Director of Cira Center for Behavioral Health, PC, a boutique group practice specializing in Women and Trauma with locations in Chicago and Oak Park.
She was named one of the “Top 100 Women in Chicago Making a Difference,” by Today’s Chicago Woman. Dr. Cira is a trauma and anxiety expert, clinical supervisor, writer, speaker, consultant, activist, wife, and Mommy to two little ones.
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