I’ll go into this more later, but here is a very brief summary of the three choices we were talking about today.
If someone is doing something that you don’t want them to do, you really only have three choices: 1)Alter their behavior, 2) Have them lie to you, or 3), experience pain. That’s it.
I’m not talking about getting your child to stop playing in the street or avoiding a physically violent situations. I’m talking about all the things that “push your buttons.” Typically this is when your partner or your children are doing something you don’t want them to do
Choice #1) Alter their behavior
Unless it’s an emergency situation,if you are yelling art your spouse or child, you can be sure that the problem is yours. You are choosing option #1. You are attempting to threaten, beg, barter, or negotiate until they alter their behavior and you get what you want. These behaviors include the silent treatment, humiliation, withdrawal, denial, and anything that is passive aggressive. This indeed works, I’ve seen many a spouse alter their partners behavior in these ways, and I see parents resorting to this as if the child has a problem. The child does indeed have a problem. The problem is that they have a parent who is more interested ameliorating their own pain than caring for the child.
RESULT: Short term, it works. We know just how to make those close to us miserable enough to get our way. Long term, its a disaster. It’s the death blow to a marriage and it’s crippling to children. All participants suffer, all relationships deteriorate and the perpetrator typically moves on to the next victim where they soon reach critical mass again.
People behave this way when they feel powerless, jealous, incompetent, insecure, guilty, ashamed, embarrassed, weak, humiliated, or in some way not enough.
Choice #2) Have them lie to you
This is what happens when you, in your effort to alter their behavior, create enough emotional discomfort for them that they find it easier to lie to you and do what they want, than to deal with the consequences of your behavior.
Choice #3) Feel the pain
is to recognize that the reason you don’t want them to take the action, you know that the path to your higher self and your best relationship is to learn to take the emotional hit, rise above it, and bask in the ensuing freedom.
Choice #1 and #2 will obviously erode your relationship and keep you in a vain cycle of circumstance . . . rather than learning to resolve the conflict within yourself, knowing that, in the long run, it is the only way.
What is your MO? Few of us are willing to willingly experience pain, yet that is the only path that leads where any of us want to go.
The next time
A few years ago we were having a small get together of high school friends. I picked up Ian on the way. Before I got to his house he called to tell me not to mention that there were other people besides us a the dinner. After we got in the car I asked him why the secrecy. He explained that his wife was extremely jealous and five years ago when we did this he mentioned that a specific woman was going to be there she “went psycho.” “I don’t know why it such a big deal, but she’s been beating me up with it ever since and as much as I hate deceiving her, I’m not willing to put up with that again.”
I have a friend who insists that her daughter not have a boyfriend until she graduates from college. Any indication that she might have any involvement with a male is met with sharp criticism, insults, and screaming name calling. The daughter is 23. One day her daughter ran off with her secret boyfriend and got married. She was furious with her daughter for deceiving her, but did that daughter really have another choice?
I’m not suggesting that his best choice was to deceive his wife, but