This photo isn't my daughter, but it easily could have been...
The other day my husband, daughter, dog and I drove a short distance to the forest near our house so we could go for a late afternoon walk. The dog happily jumped out of the car, ready to sniff, run, and swim. My daughter, on the other hand, was a little more unwilling.
Actually, she was completely unwilling.
From the moment my husband got her out of her car seat and set her down on the trail she started wailing. High-pitched 2 year old wailing, with tears screaming down her face. We tried to encourage her, and coax her to follow us, but nothing worked. As we slowly walked up the hill, she sank to her knees and cried even louder. Our “we are leaving you, you better follow” routine just wasn’t going to work.
Despite several attempts throughout, including hiding around the bend, we ended up carrying her the entire way. We went for a walk. She went for a carry.
For any of you with kids, this probably sounds very familiar. It is becoming more and more common for us as she approaches the 2 year mark.
What my daughter doesn’t realize is that she is using guilt as a tactic to get exactly what she wants. Her tears are her manipulation. Her cries are her pleas to say, “Do what I want or you’ll feel bad.”
It worked. It doesn’t all the time, but this time it did.
As adults we laugh at the tantrums and manipulation of our children, without realizing that we use the same strategy to get what we want. It’s not necessarily in the form of a tantrum, but it’s in the words that we use.
Your brother is flying in all the way from _____ for the holidays. Don’t you want to see him?
I spent all day slaving away in the kitchen for you.
Everyone else is going to be there, you have to come.
You’re leaving already? Your colleagues worked all night last night, you know.
I love you honey...now will you go and do _________?
Sometimes we use this words or phrases on purpose because we want people to feel guilty, but often times we use them without even knowing.
Either way, using guilt as a tactic to get what you want isn’t very kind, nor very honest.
Guilt is game we play to manipulate, or to seek revenge.
Guilt is a way of saying, “You aren’t doing what I want you to do, so I am going to make you feel bad until you do what I want,” or “You didn’t do something I wanted you to do, so now I am going to make you pay.”
No one wants to be motivated by guilt.
When we use guilt to motivate others, we aren’t honoring their choices. We aren’t honoring and respecting them for the decisions they are making. We are putting our desires above theirs, which is it’s own form of disrespect.
Don’t get me wrong, playing on people’s emotions is a great strategy for persuasion and debate. We see it all the time in society.
But is guilt the way you want to show your love for others, or the way you want to lead? Do you feel proud of yourself after you use guilt to get what you want? I know I don't.
It's your Life. Live It Boldly.
Things are going great for you. You have set some new goals or entered into a new situation and there is a positive momentum. Then all of a sudden--WHAM. You hit a wall and everything goes downhill fast.
We never intend to sabotage ourselves. We don’t intentionally set out to do or achieve something and then purposely blow it. Self-sabotage lies in that murky area of subconsciousness.
There are three main reasons why we self-sabotage--none of which are conscious to us.
1) WE HAVE A PATTERN OF PLAYING THE VICTIM
I was doing so well with my new diet and exercise routine, and then my in-laws came to town.
My career was on the up and up and then I got a new boss and she was a total nightmare.
He was such a great guy, and then I don’t know what happened. He was too great.
Many victims don’t realize that they are playing the victim, but they are. They are always blaming their lack of success on someone else. It’s always someone else’s fault.
It’s hard to comprehend, but this victimhood is actually benefitting them. It gives them attention. They might not realize the benefit, but it’s there and is fueling the habit of playing the victim. It feels good to be coddled and supported and pumped up again and again. (The immediacy of social media actually makes the attention seeking behavior even worse.)
2) WE DON’T ACTUALLY WANT WHAT WE THINK WE WANT
We live in a world of shoulds. Whether it be from the media, our politics, our parents, or even our friends, it’s hard to turn around without someone “shoulding” you. As a result, we often feel compelled to take on goals, or projects, or jobs that don’t really fit with who we are or what we want.
We work to lose the extra pounds because society says we will be happier and more confident, but we are actually pretty happy at our current weight.
We take a job because it’s a good opportunity, even though the golden-handcuffs aren’t actually all the pretty close up.
We stay in relationships because our friends convince us it’s a good fit, but they don’t really see what we see, or feel what we feel.
In the end, we self-sabotage because we don’t really want what we think we “should” want. It’s not such a bad thing, actually.
3) WE FEAR FAILURE
This is often the crux of self-sabotage.
What happens if you put in all this time and effort and you don’t get the results you anticipated? What does that mean about you?
Many times it’s hard to separate “I failed” from “I am a failure.” We often confuse the two without realizing it, but “I failed” is about a single incident, whereas “I am a failure” is about who you are as a person.
Instead of walking that thin line between the two, we either don’t start at all, or we self-sabotage before the going gets tough.
It’s easier to fail to try, than to try and fail.
It's Your Life. Live It Boldly.
A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in my living room with the women in my Wellness Commitments Series, and we were discussing the awkward situation of what to do when you are invited to someone’s house, but then don’t want to eat what they are serving.
Kindness comes from the heart.
People-pleasing comes from the ego.
In the situation described above, with the homemade cakes, it seems to me to be a people-pleasing moment driven by the ego.
You don’t want to eat the cake--flat out. You eat the cake anyway because you don’t want to be rude, but in reality it's because you don’t want people to judge you and think you are rude.
People-pleasing all the way.
Being nice or kind isn’t really a part of the picture.
If you were nice or kind, you would, in your heart, feel grateful for the cake and want to eagerly partake in eating it. Instead, you feeling resentful of your friend for making it in the first place, and putting you in this position.
It’s okay to say “no”, especially when it goes against your values and commitments to yourself.
Your intention in showing up is to be a good friend and connect with others. You aren’t trying to by malicious by not eating cake.
If your friend receives it poorly, and doesn’t understand your values and commitments, then I would wonder if she/he is truly a friend in the first place.
So, next time you find yourself in a position like this ask yourself:
Sometimes being bold means not eating cake.
It's Your Life. Live It Boldly.
If you enjoyed this post, please consider sharing with friends using the social media buttons below, or to the left.