Trying to Please Everyone and Making Yourself Unhappy
When he was growing up, Jack was the responsible child in his family. His little brother, the baby of the family, took on the role of the irresponsible child. Jack likes being responsible. The downside is that no one ever told him how much responsibility was enough! He never knew when to stop.
After attending therapy, Jack caught himself being responsible for answering others inappropriate questions, as if they were valid requests for information. He made a mid-course correction from too much responsibility for others, to appropriate responsibility for the task at hand in the present.
Jack also had an dysfunctional views toward understanding. He took excessive accountability for making sure people understand. Here again, he doesn’t know when to quit. Others sensed this vulnerability and were able to use it against Jack for their own agendas.
Everyone knew they could always ask for an elaboration of the facts and Jack would give it to them in good faith. But often, they weren’t sincerely interested in a deeper understanding, they were being antagonistic.
Jack decided to disengage and live on his own terms. He chose to disengage from his own self-imposed requirement that he explain everything perfectly to prevent the disaster of a misunderstanding. He realized some people ask questions didn’t require any explanation at all. They are a trap that would have wasted everyone’s valuable time. Jack replaced his old, inappropriate good intentions to make others understand. Jack made a conscious choice to allow others to be accountable for the consequences of their own choices.
Jack also released himself from the grip of his striving to be all things to all people, to please everyone all the time, to be above reproach. He wasn’t perfectly pleasing or totally combative. He didn’t feel compelled to make others understand, he wasn’t trying to control the situation to ensure to met everyone’s total satisfaction.
Jack had chosen to let it all go. He had chosen to stop operating out of attitudes from the past and begin using his adult judgment to determine which course of action was appropriate in the present. He had responded in the middle ground between the extremes of too much and too little. He had earned the right to feel “good enough.” He doesn’t have to feel better than that. He has liberated himself from his self imposed requirement that he prove himself to the whole human race. He is a worthwhile human being in spite of his faults and imperfections. He doesn’t have to be any better than that.
Reality requires us to know what we are thinking and to trust our own judgment. We can use our adult judgment to determine which words make sense and which are used to be hurtful. Any solution using our judgment will be good enough to get the job done. He/she is not doing what reality requires. Since he/she doesn’t know what reality requires, he/she can only prevent, plan and seek to control potential, future pain and that is antagonism.
Tags: Anger Management, Archive