As-Salamu ‘Alaykum sister,
Thank you for writing to us with your most important question. Habits are often hard to break and it sounds as if you got into the bad habit of yelling (raising your voice), screaming as a means of communication. Perhaps you may automatically feel this is the only way to be heard, or the only way to get your point across; however, just the opposite is true. Additionally, as your family utilizes yelling and screaming, it may seem only natural to you to do the same although you know it is not a good way to express yourself.
When we yell and scream all the time, people get use to that mode of talking. More often than not, they will not hear what you are saying and likely focus on what they are going to say in response while you are yelling. It is like the mother who yells at her child. At first the child may be startled and listen, but after a few times of being yelled at or screamed at the child gets use to it and will typically ignore the screaming. People oftentimes tune out those who yell and scream as it is unpleasant.
I would kindly suggest, dear sister, that before you speak you count to ten, breathe in and out slowly, and gather your thoughts. When you speak, picture a huge yellow sign in your head with a screaming baby. This visual should act as a deterrent to automatically scream and yell and give you time to decide to speak in a normal tone of voice.
Try keeping a daily log of the number of times a day you communicate through screaming and yelling and the number of times a day you refrain from it. Keep this log for a month. At first try to stop entirely. If you can do so for a month, the habit will be broke. Researchers found that it takes about a month to stop a bad habit. If you find you cannot go through a whole day without reacting with yelling and screaming, then in your log book set up a number of times you are “allowed” to slip up. Each week cut the number down by 1. Say, on week 1 you give yourself four times to slip up that week. Then next week you will give yourself three times. In this way, you are retraining your mind how to respond as well as exerting self-control.
Lastly dear sister, if there are classes in your area in communication, please consider taking them. It doesn’t have to be long drawn out classes, but often community and counseling centers offer classes in communication for families and individuals who experience difficulties with communicating with one another. Actually, they are very interesting and you may learn a lot of things about effective communication which you did not know before. I once took a class in public speaking which included how to communicate effectively and I was surprised at what I learned.
Another helpful tip is that when you are silent or speak softly people tend to listen, especially if they are used to screaming and yelling. The one who is silent becomes a mystery and people want to know what is in your mind. Those who speak softly may command a quiet room as others must be quiet to be able to hear you. It is human curiosity. With some efforts, self-control and awareness, sister, I am sure that in a short time you will be able to stop reacting with inappropriate communication. Please let us know how you are doing.
You are in our prayers,
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