Kelly and Kim had the same problem but in totally opposite forms.
Kelly’s parents were toxic, narcissistic bullies. They’d criticized Kelly her whole life and taught her she should always do what they wanted. If she didn’t, she was a sinner and they would punish her accordingly.
Kim’s adult children had the same idea. She should be their servant. Her time and money were theirs whenever they wanted. When she wouldn’t give in to them at a moment’s notice, they’d explode, curse, spread angry lies throughout the extended family, attack her publically in social media, and deny her access to her grandchildren.
Kelly and Kim were used as scapegoats and whipping posts, as slaves. Their oppressors wanted to be their masters.
Kelly and Kim were told repeatedly that their abusers were doing the best they could.
Whenever Kelly and Kim protested or refused, their families told them to overlook their standards and accept whatever treatment they got. Kelly shouldn’t make her parents feel bad; Kim shouldn’t hurt her adult children’s feelings. Bribery and acceptance were what was being demanded of them. Kim and Kelly should feel guilty for their feelings and resistance; they should be more forgiving.
Any psychological reasons offered for why Kelly’s parents or Kim’s adult children acted the way they did were not really “reasons.” They were excuses and justifications for the outrageous behavior so Kelly and Kim should not apply any consequences.
When do we insist on performance, not “the best they can?”
The short answer is, “Whenever it matters.” Would we accept poor performance from a surgeon, dentist or pilot; from professional athletes on your home team; from your children’s teachers or school bus drivers; from people who repeatedly batter their spouses? Of course not. We expect them to meet certain standards and when they don’t, we remove them.
Why wouldn’t it matter when someone is bullying and abusing us?
When do we overlook abusive behavior?
There are situations in which we typically try to overlook abusive behavior. For example, in taking care of a child with a disability or an elderly parent with dementia. And we protect ourselves by being in charge of the relationship. And we often sign up because we can see it’s for a finite time and then will end. And we know what a huge toll that takes on our physical, emotional and spiritual health.
Can we really change relentless bullies with enough giving in and enough love?
I’ve never seen these approaches be successful. Predators don’t wake up one day and suddenly see that our civilized ways are much better? Miracles like that rarely happen. That’s why they’re called miracles.
Instead, predators keep coming back for more easy food (money, time, feeling the pleasures of righteous anger and tormenting you).
The only method I’ve ever seen effective is setting high standards and demanding performance.
This approach won’t always succeed. Those selfish, narcissists do have free will. Indeed, history and biography do show many people choosing to be vicious and evil.
Then, the question is really about what situations we want to put our lives into for the next 30, 40, 50, 60 years?
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.