Penelope wrote: “I have a resistance to being quizzed. Like yesterday I told my husband that I would be getting a check for $1500. Today he saw online a deposit for $310 dollars. That’s because the first day the bank puts part of the check in my account, then deposits the rest the next day—something about not depositing the full amount until it is verified that the check is fully backed by the bank of the person writing the check. But then he says, ‘I thought you said your check was going to be 1500, but it’s only 310.’ Sure, he has a right to know all about our finances, but his tone was skeptical. I felt like he didn’t believe me, even though I have never, ever hidden money from him. I felt defensive. I felt like I was being interrogated. This happens a lot, and I don’t know what to do.”
Often we feel interrogated because we ARE being interrogated.
All our lives people—mostly parents and other people in authority—have interrogated us. Of course they didn’t realize they were doing it. They were simply doing what had been done with them. People ask us, for example:
“Why are you doing that?”
“But you said . . .”
“Who was that on the phone?”
“Where are you going?”
“How come you’re not . . .”
When people ask questions or make comments like these, they’re not usually gathering information. They’re accusing us, criticizing us, and telling us that we’re wrong. When we were children, there was nothing we could do about this. We had to endure the grilling and the attacking.
But we’re no longer children. Just because people are interrogating us does not mean we have to answer. People are often nosy and intrusive and controlling. It makes them feel safer and more powerful—illusions, of course.
So what can we do? With a spouse, for example, you could tell them beforehand that when they ask questions like that—as almost everyone does, not just them—you feel judged and micro-managed. They will almost certainly deny this, of course, but you can say that these are YOUR feelings, not theirs. If the questions continue, many choices are available to you, depending on the person and on the question or comment they make. You could:
Just look at the other person blankly, with no verbal response, which communicates a lot (Donna does this if I intrude thoughtlessly into something she's doing).
Say, "Don't worry about it." (to “Why are you doing that?” for example, or “How come . . .?”)
Say, "I've got this."
Pat him or her on the hand and turn back to what you were doing.
Each circumstance is different. Your response to a spouse would likely be different from what you would say to a friend. And in most cases you’re actually obligated to answer a supervisor at work. The real point is that when we’re interrogated, we have more choices than we usually realize, and we are happier when we don’t feel trapped.
Find genuine happiness now and forever.
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