The Problem With Flapping Is… WAIT! What is Flapping? Flapping is an image I use to help people understand issues of anger and dysfunctional communication. Let me explain. In my work I am what may be considered an “eclectic” clinician. This means that I don’t adhere to one particular theoretical model. Instead I draw from a variety of models. My intention has been, and always will be, to help people and to meet them where they are
. And sometimes this means that I use more creative interventions, like imagery. It helps me, it has helped my clients, and I hope it will help you too. Flapping is one such image. Let’s give this a try, OK?
Imagine, if you will, that you are in a situation where someone’s words or actions “trigger” you negatively, upsetting or angering you. And, let’s imagine that this person’s words or actions appear quite intentional. Like they are trying to get a rise out of you; trying to get you to take
the their bait. That, my friends, is flapping. Have you ever been in a situation like that? Most of us probably have. We may even know people who seem to consistently fluster us with their “flapping.” Now, picture this person as a sock puppet on your left hand and then imagine yourself as a sock puppet on your right hand. As this person is trying their best to make you feel bad, imagine the left-handed sock puppet flapping up and down vigorously while you (the right-handed sock puppet) are standing straight up, unmoving…watching the performance of the flapper.
When facing someone who appears to be intentionally triggering you, what do you do? Your actions and decisions are important in this type of situation. How do you handle it? How do you respond? Do you try to ignore the flapper? Do you walk away from him (or her)? Do you just stand there and watch them flap, smiling and secretly telling yourself, “Bless their heart…they sure are flapping like there’s no tomorrow…they must really be having a bad day!” Do you take the bait and engage in the argument? What will be the consequences of your decisions/actions? There is much to consider…in a very short span of time. For, believe me, your flapper
is doing their best to get you to flap back. If they succeed in doing so, then, in essence, negativity has won. Goal accomplished. And, when two people are flapping at each other someone (or both of you) will most likely get hurt. Feelings will be hurt, trust will be torn down, and relationships will suffer…or perhaps even be destroyed. It’s hard to recover from a serious flapping incident. It is just as difficult, or perhaps even more difficult, to recover from a pattern of flapping in relationships with those we call our loved ones.
So, my friends, flapping in and of itself may be a rather simple (and perhaps silly) image of sock puppets on your hands, but in
life it is no laughing matter. In Part II of this post we’ll take a look at 8 Flapping Fixes that I hope will be helpful to deal with The Problem With Flapping. Until then, here’s a sneak peek at the areas we will be exploring: Forgiving, Listening, Asserting, Practicing, Praying, Intuiting, Negotiating, and Guiding. Praying for peace in your hearts, minds, and in your relationships with others.