Ask The Therapist: “My parents paired me up with my male best friend and heard no justification from my side…they think of me as a liar.”

In 2016, the number of people estimated to be suffering from mental health issues like depression and anxiety amounted to roughly 1.1 billion. Since then, numbers have likely continued to rise. Moreover, studies have also shown women especially on average are a) more likely to suffer from mental health issues, and b) less likely to talk about them. The taboo in Pakistan surrounding depression and anxiety disorders only serve to aggravate the individuals suffering even more. For the women who cannot seek out full time therapy, we’ve enlisted the help of a trained therapist. You sent us in your questions – here are the answers!

“I have always had male best friends and my parents have been pretty cool about them but recently, they have started to act a little weird. They pair me up with my best friend and hear no justification from my side. They believe in what they have assumed and think of me as a liar. All this time, I have been treated as a stranger and it eats me up. What should I do?”

Shahrukh’s Response:

Dear Anon,

I can only imagine how frustrating it must be to have to explain yourself for something that you are “innocent” of. It is completely unfair to be treated as a stranger in your own home, and I imagine it must be quite hurtful. Let’s see if we can find a way for you to speak your truth, while also acknowledging that there is only so much you can do in a situation where the other person might not be willing to hear you out.

Knowing Which Parent To Approach and When To Approach

While this might not be true for everyone, but if this applies to you, see if you have one parent who you have a better relationship with, or who is more approachable. Once you have decided which parent you want to approach, then it’s just a matter of waiting for the right time to speak to them. Look for a time where they are in a calmer and more grounded state. Once you’re able to approach them, speak to them as openly and honestly as you can. 

What To Say And How To Say It

When it comes to communication, there are several subtle things that we can do to make our communication skills just a little more effective. While you can’t force someone to believe anything, you can definitely do what you can to make your voice and words be heard by making a few adjustments to the way you approach the conversation.

  • Be (or pretend to be) as calm as possible: One of the key factors that works in the art of persuasion is a calm and collected demeanour, with a hint of assertiveness (try to picture a monk, or a guru and their persona). Parents, and people in general tend to respond better to calmer tones. This will also make it more likely for them to keep to a calm tone as well. This particular strategy will be one of your biggest strengths in a conversation such as this one.
  • Trying to understand WHY or HOW they think this: This might take some active listening and a little bit of patience, but hearing their side completely will open the space for you to talk about your side. If they’re caught up in their version of reality, it is unlikely that they will be open to listening to anyone else’s side. Note: It might help to make the point that you do have other guy friends, who you are also very close to, so how or why would they single out this one specific boy from your friend’s group? Was it something that they saw? Was it something that you said or something he had said? Trying to understand the details of what they’re thinking might help you respond to them about these suspicions.
  • Validate their feelings and thoughts: I know that this can seem difficult in some moments, but sometimes all people need in order to let their guard down, is to be validated. So, if they’re expressing concerns, maybe saying things like “I can imagine why you’d feel that way” or “I understand why you’d think that” or even a simple “I hear you” can often dampen their frustration or emotional activation, which would, again, leave more room for you to speak about where you’re coming from.
  • Tell your truth: In a case like this, all you really need to do is be honest. That’s all you can really do. Try to keep to “I” statements and more towards how you’re feeling. Like: “I felt hurt when you said this” or “it really hurt that you didn’t believe me”. 

What Happens Next?

At the end of the day, Anon, your parents may or may not believe you even after having this conversation. Whatever happens, just know that you did your part in telling your side. In fact, while they may not believe you in the moment, they may begin to see the truth themselves, and it is definitely a step forward for you. You can always revisit the conversation after some time, but know that you have done your part and the rest is up to them. 

Anon, I know that it’s frustrating when you’re trying to explain something to your parents, and they just will not believe you. At a certain point, there’s only so much time and energy that you can exert towards explaining yourself and telling them that you’re “innocent.” You’re their child, not a convict up for trial in front of a judge and jury. You know the truth, and in time, they will see it as well. I hope that you are able to speak your truth, and that it’s heard and accepted. All the best and stay in your power!

The above article is written by Shahrukh Shahbaz Malik who is trained in humanistic integrative counselling at CPDD in the UK and currently has her own private practice in Karachi. The views expressed in this article are those of one expert. They do not necessarily represent the views of Mashion, nor do they represent the complete picture of the topic at hand. This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *