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Go Jump in the Lake

When some of us are annoyed with other people and negativity begins to escalate, we may use various phrases in an attempt to get them to leave us alone. A few common water-related expressions are “go jump in the lake”, or do you remember the childhood taunt “take a long walk off a short pier”? The images such idioms conjure up are usually experienced as destructive, mean-spirited and hurtful. They frequently lead to increased conflict as people on the receiving end feel dismissed and as though what is important to them is of little interest to the other.

Before saying something that essentially directs the other person to “go away – and don’t come back” – it helps to step back from the dynamic unfolding and take stock. That is, as soon as we have the inclination to say something of this nature or with this implication, it is a good time to consider what is going on and what will help us gain distance from the dissension to prevent unnecessary conflict.

The following self-reflective questions will be helpful if you tend to use comments such as “go jump in the lake” to people who provoke you. To contextualize the questions and your answers, it helps to bring to mind a situation when you have made such statements, or you are on the brink of making a remark, with the same intent, in a current situation. Though these questions are framed in the present tense, feel free to apply the past tense, too.

  • What is happening between you and another person that is leading you to want to tell her or him to “go jump in the lake” (or make another such demand, the essence of which is to leave you alone)?
  • What emotions are driving your reaction?
  • If someone has expressed sentiments to you, such as “go jump in the lake”, how have you experienced that?
  • What do you expect to achieve in your situation if the other person does go away when you essentially make a comment telling her or him to do so?
  • How will that (your answer to the previous question) be a positive outcome for you? How will it be positive for the other person?
  • In what way or ways might it (what you achieve) be a negative outcome for you? What negative outcome might there be for the other person?
  • What do you think may be important to the other person that you are not hearing or wanting to hear? What might she or he not hear that is important to you?
  • What might the other person not know about you or your reasons for not wanting to discuss the situation, issues, your differences, etc.?
  • What do you want to have happen – that is not likely to – if the other person goes away?
  • What request might you ask of the other person, i.e. instead of “go jump in the lake” or other such phrase, that would better achieve what you want to have happen between you?
  • What else occurs to you as you consider these questions?
  • What insights do you have?

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