Jane’s adult daughter had serious problems because of her public outbursts and poor decisions.
Even though Jane had been a good mother and had tried to do everything she could to please her daughter, her daughter vented all her frustration and negativity on Jane. Conversations that started civilly would turn in an instant into vicious tirades of negativity, criticism, rage and bullying. Everything was Jane’s fault; she was guilty and should accept all the blame and abuse. Jane walked on egg shells.
Her daughter would call, text and Facebook everyone in the extended family about how rotten Jane was and had always been. She hoped some of the family would support her and make Jane grovel to her.
After a few days, her daughter would call Jane and talk as if nothing had happened or she’d say, “Sorry,” and immediately change the subject. Jane would accept the apology and try to build a bridge to her daughter.
After years of this pattern, Jane realized that private apologies and excuses led only to more public bullying.
Jane finally decided to try a new experiment. Instead of accepting her daughter’s private and half-hearted “Sorry,” Jane said that wasn’t good enough. She wanted a change in her daughter’s behavior and as a sign of her daughter’s sincerity she wanted her daughter to apologize in public to the rest of the family. And that included saying it on Facebook. That was the beginning of making amends.
Her daughter told her where to put that and hung up. And texted and posted her anger and hatred.
Jane told everyone in the family what had happened and what she wanted. No more half-hearted, weak “Sorry’s” and no more reversion to the same behavior.
And then Jane waited.
Eventually her daughter needed something from Jane, eventually the rest of the family ignored or pressured her daughter, eventually Jane started having a wonderful time in life instead of obsessing and worrying about her daughter. Eventually her daughter was willing to behave decently in order to have contact with Jane.
Some people will never apologize, they’re too proud. But you can see if their behavior changes. And you get to decide the price you can live with.
This approach isn’t always effective. Sometimes, adult children are too far gone into their own pain and hate. But I’ve never seen one-way, bridge building be effective.
The same experience fits many other situations, whether the public bullying is overt or sneaky:
- Intimate relationships, partners and spouses who are sarcastic, critical and demeaning.
- Siblings who enjoy one-upping you.
- Friends who stab you in the back or put you down.
- Toxic parents who get the whole, extended family involved in their manipulation and lies.
- At work.
Of course, there are many complications depending on your situation. The 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:
- Develop the strength, courage, will and determination to be and to act your best resolutely, diligently and effectively.
- 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.