Your mother asks you to come for dinner, but you’re busy that night or just don’t want to. You tell her you can’t make it. Her pained silence on the other end of the line eats at you. Now what?
Your husband asks you to help him find his phone, but you can’t right now. He gets upset. What should you do?
Your child asks you to let him go to his friend’s house, but you tell him that he has to do chores instead. He falls to the floor in tears. Where does this leave you?
These kinds of issues are so common that many of us simply give up setting boundaries because we’d rather just do what someone asks rather than deal with their reaction to the word ‘no’.
Is it really easier to ‘just do it’?
Let me suggest that all of these responses are forms of manipulation. Your mother, your husband and your child are attempting to manipulate you into doing what they want, even though you’ve been clear that you cannot or will not do what they want in the moment. The emotional upheaval is part of the manipulation.
Did you cause their pain? No, of course not.
Did you intend to hurt them? No. You are merely doing what you can or refusing to do what doesn’t work for you.
In the long run, however, it is much easier to maintain firm boundaries. Here’s why: When you give in when you shouldn’t, you are participating in the manipulation. You’re indulging childish behavior. And you are virtually guaranteeing that such behavior will continue in the future.
If you hold your boundaries, there may be a period of adjustment in which the emotional manipulation increases. Then, it will probably die off as people get used to a clear and direct you.
It’s so tempting to avoid the conflict, give in and do what others want, though, isn’t it?
Here’s another reason to stand your ground…
Beyond being indulgent of others’ childish behavior, giving in and going along is also a form of self-sabotage. In essence, when you give in, you give away your power. You’re allowing someone else to control your decisions. Now, you’re no longer in the driver’s seat of your life.
We call this kind of self-sabotage a ‘control attachment.’ Control attachments are in play when we subconsciously find ways to be controlled by others or by life circumstances.
People with active control attachments have a hard time feeling empowered. Other people, directly or indirectly, end up calling the shots, even when those others are children.
To learn more about how such psychological attachments create ongoing self-sabotage, and what to do about it, watch this free and enlightening video.
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