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Communicating Distress

Updated: Aug 9, 2019

Communicating any feelings of stress, discomfort, or hurt to friends, family, or a significant other can be very stressful but is extremely important. It's easy during an argument to just start a battle where each person just tries to cut down the other more with each statement. Before I get into this, let me note that arguing through text is NEVER A GOOD IDEA. Once one person starts to get upset, there's too much room for misinterpretation and keyboard courage.

Based on personal experience, the most comfortable and effective method is to make sure you're very explicitly describing how you feel without accusing the other person of ill intent. HOWEVER, this only works if it's the first step you take.

If someone says or does something that upsets you, than as opposed to immediately reacting defensively, step back and identify what it was about their actions that bothered you and why (if you're someone with ASD reading this, then there is a good chance that you're naturally a very logical and rational person, use it to your advantage in these situations). Once that's been done, then fill in these blanks:

Hey I'm really upset about what you said earlier about _________________ because it made me think/feel like you did/didn't understand _______________ which is important to me.

Now, everyone has times where they lose their head and say the wrong things at the wrong times, no one is perfect and that's completely fine. The whole idea behind this is just to again, make sure you communicate what you're upset about and why. If you lose sight of those things, then odds are everyone will just end up spewing venom, waste time, and not accomplish anything. If nothing gets resolved, then there won't be anything in place to prevent it from happening again in which case, the arguments become a cycle.

To finish, there's one more very important factor and that is understanding. After feelings are rationally and calmly communicated, there's a chance that the person that unintentionally upset you, may still not understand why you were upset even after you've explained yourself. In this case, especially if that person is really important to you, it is their job to set their feelings aside and simply accept that what they did was hurtful to you and try to make sure it doesn't happen again.

During a three year relationship, when I unintentionally upset my boyfriend, I often did not really understand why what I said was hurtful however, that was my problem not his. The reverse would happen as well and out of mutual respect, we would just agree to be more careful when discussing relevant topics and that was the end of it.

Emotions are NOT LOGICAL. To deal with them, there needs to be a certain level of respect and rationality so that way the problem can be identified, and each person can adjust their behavior accordingly.