Thursday, January 17, 2013

A Contest Of Wills

The following are excerpts from Ben Leichtling's Bullies Be Gone. Click the link for the full article. I love this guy, I love his work, and I think his advice consists of realistic goals. DH and I tried most of the positive and negative tactics of reinforcement with his parents that Ben describes below, to no avail. But I still enjoy reading his informative posts. I'm reminded so much of what DH and I went through with his parents, and to some extent what we're still going through. We've entered into a contest of wills with the opposing side. Now, it's about endurance. Can we maintain our boundaries longer than they'll try to break them?

You fucking bet we can. Count on it.

I really dig something that Ben says in the video at the end of this post, and that was that we don't owe our lives to our parents, we owe our lives to our futures.

Toxic parents can try to ruin our lives.  Boundary-pushing parents...can drive us to distraction.  They still try to treat us like we’re children in need of mommies and daddies who know better than we do.  They try to control our lives so that we’ll make the right decisions, get over our fatal flaws and be successful — according to their standards.

Boundary-pushing parents try to do things we don’t need or we want to do ourselves.  They expect us to answer their calls and texts immediately.  If we don’t, they’ll call a hundred times until we do.  They drop in unannounced at inconvenient times and demand to be welcomed.  They misinterpret everything.
They use fear; if we don’t do what they say, we’ll fail in love or work.

They use blame, shame and guilt to force us to do things their way.  If we don’t do what they want, we’re not showing the proper love and respect.

Also, they want to train us that the price of not doing what they want is endless harassment, arguments and abuse...They want to convince us that we should give in to them in order to avoid the arguments. They are bullies who use all the bullying tactics of both overt and covert bullies. Most boundary-pushing parents won’t stop because we’ve talked about our desires...They’ve gotten their way by wearing us down, so they’ll continue doing what they’ve always done.  We’ll have to act to make the boundaries real; that is, we will have to train them with positive and negative reinforcement.

  • Don’t argue, debate or justify.  Don’t answer “why” questions.  Don’t be moved by guilt or threats (like they’ll cut you out of the will).  Simply tell them the way people have to act in order to get into your personal space.
  • Reward them when they follow the rules; whether they follow the timing or they act polite and civil instead of angry and manipulative in word or deed.
  • Apply consequences when they don’t follow the rules.  Stay calm and even laughing when you don’t answer or you hang up the phone – especially in mid-harangue.  The same for text messages.  You may have to un-friend your parents.  You may have to close the door when they show up unannounced.  You may have to control holiday or vacation times.  The more they violate the rules, the further away you distance them.
  • Resist when they get relatives and friends involved to twist your arm.  Test these people; if they try to force you, they can’t be in your circle.  You can only keep people who act the way you need.  You may have to move away physically – at least a thousand miles.
  • Be more persistent than they are; this is an endurance contest. 
  • 1 comment:

    1. It will absolutely be an "endurance contest."
      And it will absolutely be worth it. No one has the right to treat you with less than dignity and respect as a human being. Unless you allow it.