This story has been waiting to be put into writing for some years now. It has been used time and time again to help patients (and myself) readjust the expectations they have for other people and themselves.
It started a few years ago. A patient and I were discussing her relationship. She often lamented that she wasn’t getting what she needed from her partner. It was like a broken record. At one point, I interrupted her:
“If you went to the same shop every day for 20 years and each day you asked them to order you a specific loaf of bread and they never did – how long would it be before you stopped asking?”
I continued….. “at what point would you decide that you have a few options…
- Shop for the bread somewhere else and continue shopping there for the rest,
- Decide you don’t actually need that bread and this shop is sufficient,
- Throw a fit that in no way guarantees that you’ll get the bread but does guarantee that they will cringe every time they see you come through the door,
- Shop there normally but remind them ever so often passive aggressively that you’d buy that bread if they had it and you wouldn’t have to go to that other store,
- Take this shop off your rotation completely”
She stared at me afterwards and said “I am shopping at a store (STAYING IN A MARRIAGE) that doesn’t carry the supplies I am looking for. I keep going back in and getting mad at them (HIM) for it, even though I KNOW they (HE) don’t carry what I need.”
This shifts your perception of the situation from: this store (or person;)) is an asshole and won’t give me what I need (READ: I AM A VICTIM). TO: hey, I am a person with a lot of options. It’s great that I made my needs clear. It’s also great that I know that this shop doesn’t stock them. Let’s look for some other options that will be more suitable (READ: I HAVE INFLUENCE OVER MY LIFE).
[tweet_dis]In perception 2, you are the leader of your life. In perception 1, you are the victim of other people’s abilities, moods, desires, etc. etc.[/tweet_dis]
Do you want to live your life stuck in the worldview that you are victim to the limitations of others?
Your answer is yes if you like being the victim… if gaining sympathy and pity is the way you connect. If being passive-aggressive with most people most of the time is the way you choose to go through life. It’s common and it’s a valid choice. People choose this role in life because it’s a successful one – often, it works.
But ya know what? If that’s your answer – you are also tired. Tired of not having your needs met. Tired of making people feel guilty for existing. Tired of not having the relationships, jobs and health that you want.
Your body is exhausted from the fight to be recognized, noticed, appreciated, validated.
This is not a plea for divorce or leaving people behind. This is not a plea to force the people in your life to ‘finally’ give you what you need.
This is a plea for you to take a good hard look at your own behavior and beliefs about getting your needs met. What I would love for this to trigger is a simple question:
How much longer am I going to shop at this damn store?
Comment below with your answer!
P.S. We ALL have a friend that’s been shopping at that ‘store’ too long… send them this, maybe it’ll click 😉