Once I had a client with a bad habit. I made her keep track and she found she was complaining to friends, several times a day. It seems like if we aren't busy putting others down to make ourselves feel better, then we are busy putting ourselves down to supposedly make someone else feel better. Ugh.
Or we are busy trying to win at "misery poker" so others do what we want them to. For example, always having some ailment or predicament that turns the conversation to your needs -- not the other person's -- and puts them in a position of feeling like they need to help or save you.
Or we are busy hiding our real selves for "fear of rejection." For example, not being honest about your sexuality with people you love.
We are such manipulators. None of this works or makes us feel good, but we are just so chicken that it's where we often stop in our relationships.
Here's the problem with each case.
Case #1: You hide your success or fake-complain to make another feel better. This covers up that you are judging them; you see something awry with them; you have some wisdom to impart or some harsh reality to wake them up to and you are too afraid to do it. You justify your fear with the arrogant assumption that they can't handle it. You do the dialogue in your head instead of with them. You become "better than" and supposedly powerless to speak (all at once), while they become a mute pawn of your unspoken judgments.
Then we wonder why we don't feel totally powerful and peaceful. It's because we live in compartments, never unifying our voice and speaking as ourselves, our real selves, even when it's ugly. Especially when we have something true, harsh or ugly to say, we need to say it. When the thoughts see the light of day and the other person gets to respond, only then can the thoughts change or lead to some good.
Case #2: The problem with manipulating others to feel sorry for you and do stuff for you is that it's never enough. Also, you have to be so convincing that you start to believe you have no power and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Plus, because your real purpose in life is to empower yourself, and there is no substitute, you will never be fully satisfied with other people's help anyway.
Case #3: The problem with hiding yourself or something about you in the name of being loved is that you never feel real love anyway, because you aren't being the real you. Sure, someone could reject you when you tell the truth (though they usually don't if you do it with grace), but you fulfill the prophecy of being rejected and alone by not being the real you. Plus, in your arrogance of "knowing" how they will respond, you turn them into mute pawns in that they don't get to choose their response. Again, the dialogue is in your head, not in real life. And then by golly, it seems to you that they have rejected you, when you have rejected them.
Yikes! What is the solution?
Start telling the truth. Today. Immediately. Go back and fix one of the cases in your life where one of these things has occurred. Set the record straight and start a real honest dialogue. Geez, it's exhausting to avoid them any longer.Let me know how it goes. (Share it with me in a comment below.)
Can you tell I have a head full of steam? I do. I am on a warpath for making the truth sexy and getting people to buck up and get real. If you want to feel better, be realer. It works every time.
P.S.- Join me live for a weekend workshop Nov 11-13, The How of Sustainable Happiness at Menla Mountain Retreat Center, with amazing teachers: Patricia Moreno, Dr. Frank Lipman and Bob Thurman.