This story cracks me up every time my husband tells it. He used to head up an elementary program at a Montessori school and he had a room full of 6-10 year-olds to deal with every day. There was always conflict, but there was one boy who repeatedly got into physical altercations with other kids. One day he hit a girl hard enough to be considered for suspension. Will, my husband, asked him, “Hey, why did you hit her?” The boy replied, with complete sincerity, “Because I knew she would hit me back.”
I laugh so hard at this because that really is how we think!
We think people “deserve” what they get from us. And we think we know what people’s reactions are going to be to us, and that justifies a huge number of choices of which we are ultimately not proud. I frequently hear from my clients the most reasonable, innocent-sounding explanations for why they ignore or attack the most important people in their lives.
Collected from my own mind and the minds of my friends and clients, below are some of my favorite examples from relationships of deflecting blame and shutting people out. These might sound like great logic to the untrained ear, when really they are bad logic of someone who fears (or doesn’t “feel like”) believing in and fighting for his/her dreams.
• I ignored my spouse because I had too much work to do.
• We can’t have sex on that couch because that’s gross.
• I was mean to you because you made me mean/mad.
• I didn’t mean to be late, but something unavoidable came up.
• I am sorry I forgot. I didn’t know it was important to you.
• I can’t take a risk, because what if you hurt me?
• I can’t be there for you, because there is something wrong with me.
• I can’t forgive.
• I don’t feel like it.
It’s time to resolve issues with people you care about in your life. Please take an inventory right now of the people you wish you felt closer to or are holding something against. Ask yourself these questions:
• What’s my justification for being offended or holding my grudge?
• Am I sure I know how this person would respond if I spoke up about the issue?
What do you do when you figure out those answers? Well, I dare you to nail some bad logic you have been using to shut someone out. Here’s a hint, you are probably telling yourself you “don’t like conflict” or it “would be too mean” to bring the issue up (also infamously bad logic). Meanwhile you fester and the person just keeps losing love from you. That’s real; even if you aren’t talking about it, you both feel it.
Once you nail your own BS and tell the truth that you are scared to speak up, you are ready to plan speaking up! Don’t worry, I said PLAN to speak up. You will want some help with this, soleave a comment below and let me know who’s on your list and what you want to say.