How to set limits to offensive and hurtful comments in three steps: the infallible technique of psychologist Beatriz Galván


Sara Flamenco

We have such a deficient emotional education that the
passive aggressive communication roams freely in our society. This translates (among other things) into the proliferation of hurtful comments disguised as flattery, such as the typical “what a pity, with such a pretty face you are” or “I would like to reach 40 like this” (a phrase that, by the way, , I had to listen the other day).

poisoned gifts They can also come in the form of advice that only questions your way of acting, such as when they tell you that breast milk is best if they see that you give your child a bottle, or that you are spoiling them if you do. after 6 months (remember that six out of ten mothers receive criticism in the way they raise their children).

How to stop toxic comments

“In the face of these types of comments,
we must set limits“, says psychologist Beatriz Galván, a specialist in attachment and trauma treatment. «Putting limits is part of our
self carewhich are the actions we carry out to maintain and enhance our emotional, physical and mental health”, he qualifies to place special emphasis on the importance of self-care.

“If we get a
Value judgment, that judgment is expressed by the person from their own personal history. Judgments emerge from past experiences, beliefs and values ​​learned by the person in their family and social environment. Faced with a value judgment, we must respond in a
assertiveputting up
firm limits, without falling into aggressive or submissive responses. In other words, it is not about counterattacking, nor about remaining silent in a passive attitude”, says Galván.

What do you mean by that? That many times, value judgments say more about those who manifest them than about those who receive them, for which reason
they shouldn’t question you or undermine your self-esteem. And setting limits is the best way to deal with this type of comment, always from a calm but safe position.

Red-haired woman smelling a yellow flower. / Photo by Dg fotografo, in Pexels.

How to set limits, according to psychologist Beatriz Galván

1. Express yourself respectfully and calmly: In order to set a limit to your interlocutor without offending him, it is necessary to encourage
empathy. What is it that has led that person to speak to me in that way? Fortunately, most people aren’t mean by nature, and their offensive comments often have a reason that, while not fair to us, can help you understand why they behaved that way.

2. Avoid value judgments: to set a limit to the other person it is not necessary to judge him, since that will make him put
On the defensive and the objective of the communication will not be satisfactorily fulfilled. Avoid value judgments and banish comments about the physical. If you want to give positive reinforcement or praise the other person, do it based on emotion (“I enjoy spending time with you”, “you convey calmness”…) or from positive strengths and competencies.

3. Be clear about what has bothered you and the limit you want to set: It’s normal to feel uncomfortable setting a limit, but beating around the bush is not the solution. This tactic, while giving us the false assurance that it cushions the blow, all it does is
mess up the conversation. I know what has bothered you and the limit you want to establish without using offensive words: «Your comment about (my appearance/my body…) has bothered me. I ask you to avoid doing it again.

“Put limits
enhances our confidence and self-esteem“, says the expert. »If something bothers us or disturbs us, we have the right to express what we feel and ask that it not be repeated«, she continues. And it is that wanting, but wanting well, is learning to set limits.