Dear Carolyn: I have to have a difficult conversation with my doctor next week. Because of my mix of frustration, worry and the fact that I will likely not be wearing pants, I am almost certain I will start crying. I really don't want to cry — I am justifiably angry and don't want this doctor's comfort and reassurance, and don't want my concerns dismissed as overemotional. How do I stop a lifelong habit of crying during confrontation by next week?

— Stop Crying!

Stop Crying!: I’m so sorry, this sounds stressful and exhausting.

Two things to try: 1. Rehearse what you’re going to say. If you have a friend easygoing enough to role-play this with you, then there’s your plan for an hour this weekend and a tuneup the night before; if you don’t have that friend (they’re pretty rare), then spend some time feeling ridiculous in front of a mirror. Work on the phrasing, write down the key points.

2. Make this the first thing you say to your doc: “Warning, I cry when I’m angry, upset, stressed and during most confrontations. Please ignore it because I don’t want the distraction.”

So, short version, do what you can to preempt the tears, then make room for them if they show up anyway. Trying too hard to fight them often just makes them worse.

You didn’t ask for this, but: time for a new doctor?

Or this: Make sure you have a lot of distractions lined up for your free time between now and the appointment. Even if you were totally fine with crying, you’d have little to gain from perseverating your way to next week. Hope the appointment goes well.

Readers’ thoughts:

●You mentioned not wearing pants — you might’ve been joking, but I’ve found that conversations with my docs go better if I’m dressed. In fact, my gynecologist won’t have conversations in the exam room. He always has me dress and come into his office for the post-exam chat. Can you tell your doc you’d prefer that? It would also give you a few minutes to compose yourself and think about exactly what you want to say. It’s also a way for you to regain a little control over a situation that might seem totally out of your hands.

●Write it down! Seriously — make notes now, when you have your pants on, wherever you’re calm and thinking clearly about what you need to say. And then take your notes with you and refer to them often, even if you have to read from them verbatim like you have a script. On paper or on your phone.

I rarely trust my brain to remember everything I need to tell the doctor, or even the vet — it is an inherently stressful environment with a fundamental power imbalance. And taking the time to put your pants back on, as someone else mentioned, YES.

●If you press your tongue against the roof of your mouth, it will keep you from crying. Don’t know why, but this works [for me]. Of course, you can’t speak, either, but it will buy you a couple of seconds to get a lasso on those tears.