As she poured our fresh, hot coffee a delightful Spanish client of mine, bewailed the intensity of her life. “Everyone in my life wants things from me.” “I have no time for myself”. “My mother and father don’t drive, I have to take them shopping. They want me and my children to go for a meal every day with them. My mother calls me a million times a day. My son is sick and needs my care. My boyfriend is depressed and needs support and my boss is making constant demands. On top of that my mother constantly criticises me, from how I parent, who I date and how my body looks.”
5 UNDERSTANDINGS I COACHED HER IN
1. The first understanding needed is that the story you hear above is a ‘victims tale’.
If you find you are complaining in life about the people around you. That others are ‘making’ you do or feel a certain way, it is a sure sign that you are operating from the victim position.
That can be a confusing wake up call because when you are a victim the last thing you want to know is that you are a victim. However, this understanding is the key to your future liberation.
Let’s see why you would want to be a victim. When you are the victim, in a way you are the winner. It gives you a certain power because you are making someone or something else responsible for your sorry state. You get to be the innocent one, the powerless one and the one to be pitied.
The down side of this for the other people in your life is that on a certain level they will be subject to your resentment. You may become passive aggressive, withdrawn, whiney, or even outright angry.
The downside for you is even bigger. You will feel drained, exhausted, frustrated, powerless, be subject to bullying, not to mention what it feels like to harbour resentment to those you love.
Let me explain what the victim position is.
If you are blaming, and that means as I explained above, you are making anything in your life someone or something else’s fault. If you are making excuses or in denial. That means you are operating as the victim. From that position I can assure you, you will never get liberated. You will continue to be in conflict either quietly and internally or overtly and loudly. You may even become ill as you internalise your anger and frustration.
So let us take the situation of my lovely client. “I have no time for myself”. “My mother and father don’t drive, I have to take them shopping. They want me to go for a meal every day with my children. My mother calls me a million times a day.” My son is sick and needs my care. My boyfriend is depressed and needs support and my boss is making constant demands.” On top of that my mother constantly circuses me from how I parent, who I date and how my body looks.”
Can you see it? This is classic blame. The sense of powerlessness, frustration and irritation. The complaint and accompanying exhaustion.
2. Flip It
So let us now take that situation and flip it. Let’s try responsibility and ownership instead of blame, excuses and denial.
Ownership starts with recognising that your situation is what it is not because someone is doing something to you but rather that you have allowed that situation to develop and perpetuate.
Let us take my clients situation and break it down.
“My parents don’t drive”
“My mother calls me a million times a day”
“My mother criticises me all the time about everything.”
“My parents want me to have one meal a day with them”
“My son us sick and needs my help”
“My boyfriend is depressed and needs support”
“My boss is constantly demanding”
3. Understand the pattern
What is the patterns we ask?
The pattern is, there are no boundaries here.
What my client is doing to herself is not laying out boundaries, saying no, deciding what she does and doesn’t want. She is reacting and responding to her life rather than creating it.
Ownership and Responsibility
If we look at the same situation with the eyes of ownership and responsibility we will discover the following.
I drive my parents whenever they ask without question, but I don't like doing that.
I allow my mother to call me a million times a day.
I allow my mother to criticise me all the time about everything.
I have one meal a day with my parents but I don’t want to.
I look after my son who is sick and needs my help.
My boyfriend is depressed and needs support and I give it to him.
I allow my boss to make constant demands of me.
You see when you flip it like this then suddenly you are the powerful one in your life. You are choosing one way of being and in every moment you have the chance to choose what is right for you.
4. Make A Plan
I sat with my client and asked her. “In you ideal world, how often would you see your parents? And on which days? She replied,
“Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.”
How often would you like to speak to your mother? “Morning and evening only”
Are you ready to tell you mother that you are trying to build your confidence and cannot hear anything critical any more. That you will leave the room if she starts? “Yes I will”.
She is happy to care for her son so that is her conscious and happy choice.
She did not want to support her boyfriend as an obligation and agreed she will do so as she feels right about it.
And from now on she will begin to say no to her boss when it really feels like too much.
You see in life. People can feel our edges. If you do not have an edge for other people to bang up against they will push you and keep pushing in the hope that they will find the edge.
Of course when you have had the ‘push-over’ pattern for a long time the people in your life will quite likely freak out at the sudden loss of influence with you. This is to be expected, and ignored. It is also important to inform them that the change is coming.
You need to tell them. “I have been reflecting and realised I am a yes person. It isn't serving me and I am going to change it so please don;t be surprised if I am saying no where I used to say yes. I love you, but I must do this for myself or I will simply be an exhausted, angry, unhealthy person.. And until I get used to it I may even be rather over the top about it. Would you be ok to be with me on this?
5. Stick to It
Then you must keep your word to yourself. plan it out and stick to it. And take small bites at first. Aim for a one week experiment. Your subconscious will be able to stay conscious for that length of time. A habit of a life time will take time to rewire.
And that my friends, is how you stop being a doormat, and become a doorway that you allow people through only when they knock, and you choose to answer and invite them in.