Situation & Lessons No.1
Anna does whatever she is asked to do
even when she doesn’t want to do it.
Feeling mistreated, she grumbles, complains and bursts out in anger every so often because of her accumulated resentment. Although she feels suppressed, she finds it impossible to say “No.”. She is afraid people will not love her anymore, that they will reject her if she refuses to do what they request of her.
She believes their “love” for her is based solely in the prerequisite that she comply with their every wish.
Her family members have gotten used to seeing Anna in this role, and now take it for granted that she will do anything they ask of her. Even though she complains, plays the role of the victim, and frequently declares she will do no more, they do not hear this because her actions never follow her words. She has often threatened to stop doing whatever they ask, but has never once refused. She does not know how to. She is afraid she will loose their love. Also, she receives feelings of self-worth from being the “victim,” the “martyr,” the “good person” who is done injustice to, who has no time for personal needs.
Her husband and children could easily love her even if she didn’t do all she does, but they have simply gotten used to this situation and have found the easy solution is to let Anna do everything, especially in the home. The truth is that in spite of all her complaints and threats, she has never confronted them with this matter in a clear and effective manner.
Then one day she thinks, “What kind of love is this which depends on whether I suppress myself, have no needs and do whatever they ask of me? This is not love but bartering. I barter my freedom, needs and self-respect for their acceptance and ‘love’. I will start expressing my needs and will say ‘Yes’ only when I really feel it. Whoever really loves me will continue to do so.
But Anna at first was not comfortable with saying “no” and found herself saying it rather defensively and aggressively. Also, she had suppressed herself for so many years, that she now wanted to do very little of what was asked of her. She perceived each request as an infringement on her freedom.
She had now moved into another extreme of behavior. She was defensive and uncooperative.
Gradually, Anna will realize that real freedom is found in giving out of love and not out of fear. When we give out of fear of rejection, we are not really giving but bartering whatever we are giving in exchange for the others’ acceptance.
Real giving occurs when we know we are free not to give, but chose to give out of love for the others.
She will probably then say “Yes” about the same number of times she did in the past, but now she will be saying “Yes” out of freedom and not out of fear, and she will feel no pressure and will be happy.
How can she manage that?
What could her lesson be?
Does she need to realize that she is lovable just as she is even when she cannot respond to what others ask of her?
Or does she need to learn to give as she does now, but out of love and not out of fear of rejection?