In the past five years, Jane’s 36 year-old daughter had spoken to her 5 times.  Actually, she hadn’t spoken; she’d screamed at Jane in public and private, saying her life was ruined because Jane had never loved her enough or given her enough.  Jane was evil, selfish and uncaring; followed a bunch of foul names.  She hoped Jane would rot in hell

But now Jane’s daughter wanted to come home for just a month with her surly 15 year-old son and two dogs.  She was divorcing and needed a place to stay, but, she assured Jane, it would only be until she could get enough money together to get her own place.  She said she still hated Jane but she’d be willing to put up with Jane for a little while.

This sounded to Jane like the last time, 10 years previously, when she’d allowed her daughter to come home for just a month.  He daughter had promised to help with the chores, take care of her dogs, take care of her son and work hard so she could move out.  But none of those promises had been kept.  Life was no fun for her daughter so each week she’d dropped one of the promises permanently.  Soon her daughter went out all day and evening with her friends, dumping Jane’s grandson on her whenever she felt like it.  She didn’t look for a job.  She still berated and cursed Jane whenever she wanted.  She’d only left after 5 years because it was more convenient to move in with the boyfriend she later married.

In a similar vein, Jack and his wife of 20 years were finally divorcing.  They’d reach a settlement for all their stuff.  Jack’s wife was interested in moving in with her boyfriend as soon as Jack gave her all she thought she wanted and deserved.  Jack tried to be fair and, as usual in their marriage, had given her what she’d demanded.

At the last meeting before presenting the signed agreement to a judge, Jack’s wife suddenly gave Jack an additional list of demands she’d decided she wanted.  Even her lawyer was surprised.  It made no sense to Jack.

The similarity between the two situations is in the boundary pushing.
Both Jane’s daughter and Jack’s wife made agreements and then didn’t keep them.  Then they’d want to open a new negotiation during which Jane and Jack would give them more.

Jane’s daughter tried to beat Jane into submission using blame and guilt and promises of a new life.  Jack’s wife manipulated him, through endless demands that she thought reasonable or simply by not making agreements.  Both Jane’s daughter and Jack’s wife thought they were right and deserving; they didn’t have to keep any agreements Jane and Jack forced them into.

Boundary pushers are relentless predators.  They criticize, bully, and abuse us into giving in.  The push all our buttons – guilt, anxiety, fear, decency, kindness.  They’re relentless until we give in – bite-by-bite.

Only after Jane and Jack acknowledged the pattern they’d seen but had tried to avoid admitting, only after Jane and Jack were willing to give up trying to rescue, please or save people they loved, only then could they begin to create lives they wanted with new people they wanted.  Only after they make the commitment to the futures they wanted, could they learn new beliefs and use new skills effectively.

Negotiating with some teenagers and two-year olds cam feel the same way.

Of course, there are many complications depending on your situationThe best way to learn how to take power in your life and to be the person you want to be is to hire Dr. Ben for personalized coaching and counseling so you can:

  1. Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
  2. Develop a plan and master the skills necessary to create the life your spirit has always hungered for.

Since all tactics depend on the situation, call me at 1-877-8Bullies for expert counseling and coaching by phone or Skype.

AuthorBen Leichtling