How to be a broken record

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There’s an art to conversation in which you remain independent and responsible. When you are in control of your emotions, you’re able to speak calmly and in a pleasant tone.

This skill can be really hard to put into practice if you are in a codependent relationship, whether it’s a romantic relationship or one at work or with another family member or even with a friend. In general, if you have the tendency to be codependent, you probably see the same thing crop up in more than one area of your life. That’s good news, because it means when you learn how to break out of the old habits of groveling and trying to keep the peace even at the expense of your own needs, then you will make huge strides in your personal growth.

See my related post about the Do’s and Don’ts of saying I’m sorry

Here are examples of occasions when you might wish to sound like a broken record (meaning you repeat the same thing, again and again, in the same tone, without growing angry or upset):

  • When you are telling your spouse about plans you have made which he or she objects to
  • When you are explaining to your child (of any age) what you expect them to do, and by what time line
  • When you are saying “no” to someone who is making an unreasonable demand or asking you to do something that you really don’t want to do
  • When you feel backed into a corner and don’t know what else to say to explain yourself

Being a broken record is a handy skill to learn. It means that you remain calm and cool, while politely repeating what you have just said. For instance, let’s say that last month a friend talked you into going to an expensive restaurant against your better judgment. At the time, you could’ve kicked yourself for agreeing to it, and you resented having to pay so much for a meal when it wasn’t even your idea or your choice. In other words, you felt like you were railroaded, and you vowed to yourself “never again!”

But now here that same friend is, with a bright idea for getting high price tickets to a concert. You’d kind of like to go but you want to get the cheapest seats and they insist on front row. You could handle it in various ways, depending on how close you are to this friend and how much you want to attend the event. You might say, “I’ll bet that will be a great concert but I’m going to have to say no to the high price seats.”  If they insist or call you “cheap” or other names, simply keep your cool and be that broken record, repeating what you said already.

They might not like your response and in fact will probably try to talk you out of your decision. That’s where being a broken record comes in very handy.

If you feel shaky about saying “no” to someone, repeating the same memorized phrase can give you power!  You don’t have to come up with excuses or launch into a whole episode of “Oh, I’m so sorry, I know you must think I’m cheap, but my credit cards are maxed out and I am just broke and I’m so sorry, please don’t hate me…”  You know that kind of hand-wringing pose does nothing to establish you on an equal footing in this friendship. Instead, it keeps you in the position of being the poor little victim that they have to lead around by the hand and coax to have fun.

So being a broken record is not about groveling or humiliating yourself. It’s an empowerment tool!  And once you get the hang of how to use it, I really think you’re going to love the freedom that it gives you to say what you mean… and stick to it even in the face of someone else’s anger or annoyance.

your happiness guru,
Evelyn Brooks

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