Occasionally we are confronted by persons who play the role of the interrogator. Basic to dealing with “interrogators” is to understand why they function in this way and how we are affected by their attitude. It is also entirely possible that, at times, we too play this role.
1. In this role we control others by addressing ourselves to their need for our approval. We do this by criticizing, doubting, giving advice and, in general, creating doubt about the othersΥ ability or correctness. We criticize how they have done something or question why they have done it in a particular way.
2. We get their attention and can control them by making them answer to our questions about what they are doing. We play the game of who is right or more knowledgeable.
If we want to free ourselves from the interrogators in our lives, we will need to get free from our need for their acceptance or approval. We will need self-acceptance and self-confidence.
I message to an Interrogator
One possible communication with an Interrogator could be the following.
“Dear, I would like to discuss with you a problem which I have with our communication. I feel myself continuously in the position of answering to your questions and doubts about what I am doing. I feel that you are frequently correcting and doubting me. This puts me on the defensive and sometimes I get into the role of the victim. At others, I become an intimidator, or do the same to you and become your interrogator.
“This way of communicating saddens me. I believe that we can communicate much more honestly and harmoniously. For this reason, I am going to try to accept myself even when you have doubts and criticize. I am going to stop answering your questions and apologizing to your accusations. I am going to attempt to be happy even when you are not satisfied with me and when you criticize or accuse me.
“Please do not misunderstand this. I love you and want you to be happy and want us to be happy together, but we cannot be happy this way, with your playing the lawyer and my playing the guilty one. I cannot lose my self-respect any more in this game.
“I want you to know that I love you even when I do not try to get you to agree with what I do.
“How do you feel about this?”
In order to make such a change in ourselves, we will need to strengthen the following beliefs.
a. My self-worth is independent of what others think.
b. My self-worth is also independent of the results of my efforts.
c. Interrogators doubt themselves and are simply trying to increase their own self-esteem.
d. I give them my attention in positive ways so that they do not need to resort to this way.
e. We can love each other even when we do not agree.
f. I am safe and loveable even when I do not prove that I am right.
g. I am totally safe and worthy even when others do not agree with me.
h. I am totally safe and worthy even when I make a mistake.
i. I am not perfect and I make mistakes, which I can admit it without losing my self-worth and othersΥ love.
j. Being right does not attract love, but love does.
k. Life gives me exactly what I need at every moment so that I can learn my next lesson in my growth process.
A Possible Way of Reacting
Here is a description of a possible way in which we might react to an interrogator. (The use of the female pronoun is arbitrary – the interrogator could equally be a male)
I remember that my self-worth is not dependent on what she thinks. I also remember that she most likely acts like this, criticizing and trying to put me down, because she herself doubts her own self-worth. She needs affirmation and is seeking it by searching for my mistakes or getting me to pay attention to her and answer her questions. She probably simply needs attention.
I explain to her, that I respect her and her opinions but that I prefer not to get into this game in which she keeps doubting or criticizing and I am trying to prove that I am right.
I may not be always right; I do make mistakes as I am not perfect, and thus I think about what she has said and get back to her on the matter if it is important. But I do not continue this game with her.
We have totally different beliefs about some matters and still love each other unconditionally. I chose to love her without needing her approval or agreement on some matters and hope that she can do the same.
I explain that if she needs my attention or wants to communicate about something, then she can simply express that need, without criticizing.
We must also investigate the possibility that we have everything to gain from listening to the other’s comments or advice.