Not really. Sheri married a man who puts her down just like her brother used to. What I really mean when I say she married her older brother is that she’s married to a pattern that began in childhood. That pattern consists of being zapped with a negative comment—like an accusation—and then reacting to it by defending herself.
Defending herself is all well and good. What’s self-defeating is that she’s compelled to do so . . . she can’t rest unless she can get him to change how he sees her.
“Okay,” I said, “Suppose he accused you of wearing orange pants (she was wearing blue jeans). Would his accusation derail you?”
“No! Not at all,” she said, laughing.
“Because it wouldn’t be true,” she explained.
Ahhh. So, the key is for Sheri to get good at questioning the accuracy of all put-downs and accusations. To help her do that, I advised her, “Just think of orange pants whenever you feel the compulsion to defend yourself. Then be your own judge.”
Every accusation is an opportunity to practice believing in yourself.
Share your thoughts with me.
Names are changed to honor client privacy.
I like this quote:
“Making marriage work is like operating a farm. You have to start all over again each morning.”
One thing that assures a long-lasting relationship is kindness—each partner treating the other with the same respect, courtesy and gentleness that characterized their mode of relating in the beginning.
Unfortunately, our human tendency after settling in is to relax those standards. We drop those nicer habits. Not good. A relationship should be a place where flowers grow … not a place where we’re constantly encountering prickly nettles.
Another crucial element is freedom. Love shouldn’t be a prison, and true love isn’t.
Go to my column titled “The Grander Version of Love” where you can read about Carl and Lynn. I go into more depth about kindness, freedom and two other components that comprise a healthy relationship.
I welcome your views!
“Don’t let other people treat you the way you wouldn’t treat them.”
This is what I recently said to Stanley, who never objects to disrespectful treatment from key people in his life. He swallows it … and suffers for it.
Kind-hearted by nature, he’s respectful in all his dealings with others. He wouldn’t, COULDN’T, hurt a flea if forced to. But there are those in his life who don’t mirror that characteristic. When I asked him why he doesn’t stand up for himself, he said, “It’s what I’ve come to know.”
Said so well! Stanley’s succinct comment speaks to all of us. Programmed from early childhood, we tend to behave and react in ways that echo what we’ve come to know. To step outside that box takes us out of our comfort zone, and as we all know, leaving our comfort zone isn’t one of things we crave in life—we resist it like the plague.
For the remainder of our session, Stanley and I explored the ways his comfort zone existence has hurt and hindered him. I knew we were getting somewhere when he said, “I can see that I need to get comfortable with being uncomfortable. That’s the only way I’ll dig myself out of this hole.”
Click here to read about Deanna with a similar problem and the advice I gave her . . . .