Even after 30 years of marriage, Jane was angry at her bullying husband, Joe. He just wouldn’t stop violating boundaries she was trying to set. For example:
- When she said she didn’t want to talk about something, he kept nagging her with probing questions.
- When she said she didn’t want to do things that offended her, he kept asking “why” and argued against every reason she offered until she finally gave in.
- When she wanted to do something he didn’t like, even though she could afford to pay for it with money she’d earned, he called it stupid, dumb, wrong and uncaring, and he ignored her requests to back off until she finally took the path of least resistance and didn’t do it.
Jane blamed Joe but her primary problem wasn’t him. Her real problem was her own rules, rules, beliefs and attitudes, which kept her stuck in his relentless harassment and control.
Joe is a relentless, narcissistic, manipulative control-freak. He’d been that way all their lives. Even though the children were now independent and Jane had her own money, she still gave into him.
She was still rewarding him, giving him a doggie treat every time he beat her into submission with his arguments or withheld his approval and permission. She’d trained him to think he’d succeed because she’d given in for 30 years.
Some of her old, ineffective rules and beliefs were:
- If she was smart and reasonable enough, she’d win an argument and he’d give her permission to do what she wanted.
- She was selfish and guilty if she did what she wanted against her husband’s demands, commands and wishes.
- She needed his permission before she did what she wanted.
- She needed him to empower her.
She needed to free herself from her self-imposed slavery, her self-bullying.
After a long-sought for epiphany, Jane realized she could simply take power, whether he gave her permission or not.
She released her out-of-date, ineffective, childhood rules and decided to adopt new ones as an adult. She’d stop playing her old games.
- She didn’t have to answer his questions. She’d been raised to think that a polite person always answered other people’s questions and the only way to avoid embarrassing subjects or unending interrogations was to convince the other person to stop asking those questions. Now she’d simply look him steadily in the eye and not answer, or she’d say she wasn’t answering and walk away. When he followed her with more questions, she’d simply ignore him and go about her business.
- She didn’t need to justify herself according to him. She didn’t need to prove herself or show she deserved. She didn’t need his approval or permission. Because she wanted or didn’t want, arrived at after due consideration, would be enough for her. At the beginning, she’d be better off not giving reasons because, if she did, he’d think it was the old rules and he’d argue forever. Later, she might say why she did something but it would only be for information, not to ask his permission or to make things acceptable to him.
- She let go of her guilt. What she wanted wasn’t bad or crazy. That was enough for her. She didn’t have to please him or submit in order to prove that she was a good person.
- She stopped thinking she had to please other people. Other people didn’t get to vote. Instead, she’d test other people. She wouldn’t allow people who repeatedly tried to get her to do what they wanted to get close to her. Since what she wanted wasn’t bad or expensive, she’d let those who were comfortable with her come close to her.
- She decided that their children could choose to be thrilled and heartened by her new strength, courage and determination. They could be helped by her new example in their lives. She’d maintain a distance from any who tried to manipulate or bully her into submission. She didn’t need to justify or seek their permission either.
- She let go of being responsible for Joe’s behavior. She didn’t think he’d commit suicide; he wouldn’t want her to be free. But even if he did, she wasn’t doing anything bad. She wasn’t responsible if he was weak or dumb.
Did it work? Do you mean, “Did he change? Did she finally submit again? Did she divorce him?” Does her case study really effect how you’ll create the rest of your life? Do you want to create your life the way you hope it will be or must you first have evidence that your plan will bring you happiness.
Follow your bliss. Even if you don’t get rich or some old friends or loves reject or abandon you, you’ll be living your bliss. And you’ll attract new people who want to share your bliss.