'See, the trouble is . . .'


July 23, 1991|By Barbara Turk, M.S.

Your neighbor is very kind, always doing nice things for you, even remembering your birthday. But now there's a problem. Maybe he/she plays the TV so loud and late that you can't sleep. Whatever the issue, you hate to say anything, because he'll think you're very ungrateful. Maybe you'll just try to live with it.

Maybe you will decide to live with it. But concern for appearing ungrateful need have nothing to do with your decision.

Why not?

Because it can be assumed that the nice things your neighbor does, he does because he wants to. If there are strings attached, then he's manipulating you. Do you want to feed into that?

How do you handle things? Try this:

* First, decide whether the problem bugs you enough to deal with it. If so . . .

* Decide exactly what you want to say (perhaps writing it down to clarify your thoughts).

* Be sure you explain (gently) how what he's doing affects you, for example, "When I hear your TV I can't get to sleep."

* Avoid referring to his past kindness when confronting this issue; don't mix apples and oranges.

Probably your neighbor is a benevolent soul, so things will go back to the way they were before. If not, at least you'll have spoken up appropriately and not let your neighbor pull the strings.

Barbara Turk is a psychotherapist in private practice.

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