Are you the friend who is afraid to tell someone “no” because you fear how mad they will get? Do you find yourself accommodating people’s requests just to avoid conflict?
This behavior is called “fragilizing,” Refinery 29 explains.
While you think you are being nice by not having boundaries, you are actually letting people take advantage of you.
Debra Kissen, PhD, clinical director of Light on Anxiety, a cognitive behavioral therapy treatment center in Chicago, told Refinery 29, that those who fragilize often may think what they’re doing selfless, but rooted in the accommodating actions are their own fears.
We may think “we’re doing it to minimize the other person’s discomfort, in theory, but in reality, we’re doing it to minimize our own discomfort,” Dr. Kissen described.
And it affects not just you, but also the people you are working to “appease.”
“It leads to not having certain important needs met for the individual doing the fragilizing,” Kissen explains, and “It doesn’t challenge one to learn to cope with the distress, and to learn to move through a situation that’s complicated or uncomfortable to get to the other side. So, nobody really wins.”
To start to end the cycle, you have to stop going with whatever is offered. Kissen explains, if you’re the type of person who says “whatever works” when someone asks what you want to eat, but deep down you do care, you can practice radical honesty and start saying, “actually, I’d like some pasta.”
“Pick really specific ways to work that muscle of learning to tolerate other people’s emotional distress,” she advised. Which means you’re going to have to finally get comfortable with upsetting some folks. But being upset is a part of life.
“See that person as a harmless but tantrum-ing human,” she says. “It’s not anything bigger than that.”