I had a client, Sara, who had been married a few times and was in a long term relationship when I worked with her.
She felt she left her marriages prematurely, so she was determined to stick with her current dysfunctional relationship until the end.
Her sessions would start off with a rant about her mate. She rattled off situations which irritated her, and focused on his glaring shortcomings. I would seek to understand her point by asking questions.
Questions such as:
- So, what you’re saying is, he takes no responsibility and blames you for the issues in your relationship?
- Okay, he doesn’t validate your feelings? Or he invalidates what you think and feel?
- Oh, so what you’re saying is everything is his fault and you’re the victim?
- Um, so you do or you don’t want to leave him?
- Huh, alright…so what you’re saying is everything is really okay?
Venting? Complaining? What did she really want?
She wanted to remain in her unhappiness because it’s where she knew how to function.
She wasn’t looking for change; she operated by talking in circles because changing her circumstances meant having to look inside and take responsibility for her misery. Instead it was easier to play the victim in her life story.
Sara never saw herself as a victim. She’s tough! She kicks ass!
She defended her disempowerment and her decision to stay with a mate who didn’t really get her. A life where she felt stifled, misunderstood, apathetic, unhappy and just overall not thriving.
She didn’t want it to change.
At the end of her tirade I’d ask a simple question, again, so I understood where she was coming from, and she’d launch into a litany of reasons to defend her circumstances. She ALWAYS had an answer for all the issues she blew up about in her rant–those problems were okay. She’d say, “It’s just the way it is and nothing will change!” It was all a big “whatever'” or “okay'” or “who cares'” whenever I’d ask if she planned on staying disempowered and miserable.
She liked being stuck right where she was. It served her.
Another thing Sara would do to show she wasn’t a victim in her eyes was predict his behavior or what would happen in the future.
When people tell me the details about what another person is going to do, I don’t congratulate them. Instead, I point out three things:
- The focus is on the other person, not YOU, where it needs to be.
- You, me and everyone else are the creators of our own lives. It’s not really a prediction you’re making about your mate, it’s what you help to create because of how YOU show up in the relationship too.
- When you predict your mate’s words or actions in a negative light, and you feel angry, you’ve given them YOUR power–you’re a victim.
Not pretty, but choosing to live in a way that your perception is proven right by your predictions is a way of numbing out the pain.
The benefit is to remain in this comfort zone.
No change will happen.
In Sara’s case, she could predict it all and be angry or apathetic because deep down inside she feared nothing better was out there.
No one stays unhappy unless there’s a benefit. Having no interest in looking inside of yourself as to why you’re not happy and unwilling to do something about it means the benefit of misery outweighs the desire for change.
It’s not about changing other people.
I’ve had many people like Sara: pissed off and feeling motivated to do something until they see the “something” they must do takes them out of the control position (their comfort zone).
The drama they complain about keeps them in control of their shitty situation. If they released their partner from being responsible for their unhappiness, they’d be face to face with their fear.
The benefit to being unhappy outweighs the fear of change when you do the following:
- Make excuses
- Argue and defend your position
- Bitch about your circumstances, but eschew any new solution
- Control through manipulation (most people do not see how they do this)
- Resist inside and outside; it’s familiar and where you live most of the time
How do you switch gears and take into account your delight in your misery so you can let go, move through and find your inner happiness?
To start with….
- Stop excuses. When you hear them come up in your mind, QUESTION THEM. Ask yourself what the truth is under the excuse.
- Feel the fear of losing an argument, of being wrong, and see that it’s a perception, not an absolute truth. When you stop defending, and realize you CANNOT convince someone else or yourself of your position, you may feel a loss of control. Allow it and feel the freedom from the perspective underneath it.
- Stop the complaining. It is a merry-go-round of energy in your mind. Stop it and think about its purpose. All it does is distract you from you and what your real cause of unhappiness is.
- Stop focusing on other people and what they do or don’t do. Instead, figure out what you’re doing and WHY. Not because someone is causing you to do something–what is YOUR real motivation?
- Resistance persists until you move yourself out of that position. Why do you feel it must be the way you see it? Is there another way?