When Your Adult Child Becomes Abusive

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If your adult child or children were anyone else on this planet, would you allow them the leeway that you are giving to your abusive child or children?

Tough question to answer, isn’t it?  Part of that is because we have that “bond” with our child or children as a parent that supersedes any other relationship that we can have or have had in our lives.  Love is blind as they say so, we often blindfold ourselves to the three dimensional view of our child or children.  We can see glimpses of their flaws and faults but, that’s as much as our guilt will allow us to see.  It’s nearly impossible for us to be as fully objective about our own child or children as we may be able to be with other people.

The word “guilt” was used for good reason. As parents, not only does the love we have for them become overwhelming and blinding but, we tend to tie our own self-worth into our child or children.  The moment we dive deeply into being critical of our own flesh and blood that we brought into this world or even adopted from someone else’s womb, we tie ourselves to that child or children in a way that we cannot tie ourselves to anyone else on this planet.  A put-down of our child even from our own minds and whether we gave birth to them or not, is oftentimes, felt as a put-down upon ourselves as both parents as well as who we are in general as people.  If our child or children are not doing well in life or is somehow “flawed”, we can unconsciously or even consciously, figure that it’s our faults.  We can leap to the conclusion that somehow, we have failed as parents and therefore we are also flawed as people in one way or another.

Not everyone will completely blame themselves for their child’s failures in Life.  Some parents will be able to see that our children have made choices in friends or groups that they’ve chosen to hang around and blame them instead of ourselves.  However, somewhere, deep down inside of us, there’s still a feeling of somehow being imperfect as a parent because our child or children have made those choices whether we’ve discouraged it or outright forbidden it or not. On some level or another, we feel “guilt” in one capacity or another and can tear ourselves to shreds as both parents as well as people.

This then leads us back to the question of whether or not we would allow any other human being to treat us the way that we allow our adult children to treat us.

First of all, were someone else to be treating us with any level ranging from disrespect to outright abuse, we’d likely toss those people from our lives to some extent or another, for some time frame or another or, more likely, until there was at least a sincere apology from that person.  If it was a long-termed thing, we’d likely walk away and not look back.   With family, it’s not quite that easy.  We can even find ourselves being victims as adults to poor treatment from our own parents and siblings out of a feeling of obligation and duty.  However, having said that, we can also come to a point where we begin to distance ourselves either somewhat or totally from them and their abusive or manipulative ways.  Friends or others in our lives are even more likely to be walked away from under these circumstances.  Our children are not quite as easy to distance ourselves from because of the above and for other reasons.

There is likely few people that we put more of ourselves into than we do with our child or children.  Even as adults, we are still invested in many ways in our children’s lives and well-being.  After all, isn’t that our job?  At least, that’s what we may reason with ourselves but, the answer to that is a resounding “no” once our children become adults and, we don’t need to continue to allow them to use, abuse or treat us poorly once they have become adults.  Our “jobs” are done.  We gave birth to them, loved them, raised them, gave them what we could reasonably give them and we supported them in more than a roof over their heads.  There are exceptions of course in the parenting world to this but, we’re talking about the average parent here, not those who were abusive to their own children or neglectful in any way.

There are a few things to take into consideration in how parents can deal with their adult-abusive or even estranged child (a topic that not many sites will deal with).

Your influence over your adult child was watered down many years ago.

We all like to think that we still have some sort of power or control over our children’s lives once they are adults.  For some, this is true but, for the most part, our influences over our child, all of our teachings, morals and values that we feel we’ve instilled into them, was long ago watered down by the influences of many other people in our children’s lives as they grow.  We are no longer their sole source of influence.  Peers, bosses, teachers and society in general, also including technology as well as entertainment venues, have taken over the largest portion of what affects them or doesn’t affect them once they are adults and have been doing so for many years before this point.  Oftentimes, those sources are the biggest reasons for their actions, decisions or choices at this stage of their lives versus us, as parents.  We therefore, cannot continue to place blame upon ourselves for everything that our children decide to do or not do.  Those choices were influenced by many other sources and we are the least likely sources at this point in our children’s choices or lack of them so, we can halt the self-deprecating right there for their poor choices or in taking the blame for the way they treat us now.

Having given your child too much attention or in short, spoiling them.

A lot of parents from the 1980’s onwards are likely guilty of having given their child everything they could possibly give them including monetary things as well as attention, devotion, praise and love.  Parents of children from the 80’s onwards were also victims to a new way of thinking about parenting. Society was at a point where the theory was to reward children for almost everything that they did, including potty training.  They got stars, praise and even rewards or trophies for simply participating no matter how well they did or whether they did anything or not.  They simply had to show up more than half of the time in order to get a reward of some type or another.  Even education was play based and grades were given out according to effort, not necessarily, achievement.

This was a time frame in which parents were also encouraged to praise our children to the hilt for even small endeavours in the home and, it was done by most.  Support, praise, rewards and more of the same.  No matter what children did or didn’t do in those times, they were rewarded for one thing or another.  Not only did that lead us to believe that our children could do no wrong but, it led them to feeling “entitled” to getting rewarded in one way or another no matter what they did or didn’t do.  It was that entitlement that turned a fairly good chunk of those children into little narcissists who believed that the sun rose and set on them no matter what they did or didn’t do.  That wasn’t just parental influence but, also that of society in general.  Even were children to be disciplined at home, they were rewarded for even poor attitudes and skills outside of the home. Parents couldn’t override an entire system and if they tried, the parents became “The Hated Ones” because the rest of society and its systems were telling these children that they were “entitled”.   We did them no favours as human beings because it made it tougher for these kids to grow up into a tough, dog-eat-dog world where they weren’t able to cope well because everything had been handed to them up until this point.  That wasn’t necessarily parent’s faults but rather societal experimentation that failed these children and turned them into narcissistic tending little monsters who eventually, would grow up into adults who felt entitled and angry when they didn’t get what they wanted anymore from Life or their parents.

The “experts” are still saying that parents should tell their children they are loved no matter how badly they’ve treated us or, even if they have walked away on us and are now estranged from us.

Not to put down the so-called “experts” but, how many parents have tried with their children, always telling them that they are loved, only to find themselves being either doormats or punching bags for their children?

Answer:  Lots!

Sadly, many parents of children from the ’80s onwards are now finding their either fully adult or nearly adult children, treating them like yesterday’s garbage and being tossed to the side while they’re still telling their child, “I love you” and continuing to do so no matter how badly they are treated by their children.

Far be it from me to tell parents to not tell their children that they are loved and wanted.  Every parent needs to let their children know that much but, when that child not only disrespects that parent but, treats them poorly, it’s time to give up on the loving words and time to get real with their adult children by letting them know that while they are still loved, their attitudes and abusive, using actions will not be tolerated.  Enough already with sending them messages of “I love you” and leaving it there while rolling with the punches.  These are no longer 10 year old children who can’t understand the meanings of their actions fully.  These are fully grown adults who must learn that for every action, there’s an equal or greater reaction.  That doesn’t mean withdrawing love for them however, it does mean that these adults don’t get to treat their parents poorly and still get the benefits that they would if they were treating their parents with respect and love too.  Poor actions get poor reactions.  Withdrawal of love for them is never a solution but, rewarding them by permitting poor treatment is not the answer.  They need a wake-up call for their sakes as well as the parent’s own well-being.

If you wouldn’t let others treat you this way and would walk away from them, why are you letting your child do this to you?  

As has been said throughout this piece in differing ways, rewarding poor behaviour is akin to a form of abuse from parents.  We are not doing them any good by rewarding our children for their poor treatment of us or by putting up with it and giving them more and more of ourselves.  Life doesn’t work that way so, why should we?

When a child is rewarded for poor behaviour, attitudes, actions, choices or decisions, it re-inforces that behaviour within them.  No, they won’t like being said “no” to nor, will they love the idea that they’re not getting their own way or what they want if we do start to stand up to them as adults and let them know that it’s not ok to treat us in a poor manner.  However, continuing to give them what they want, expect or feel entitled to getting, is only bolstering the idea that poor behaviour, temper tantrums, threats of withdrawal from our lives and whatever else they can throw at us to manipulate us into giving them what they want is simply training them to continue treating us as parents, wrongly, poorly and with disregard as well as disrespect.

Let me say something perfectly clear here.

Giving more of yourself and handing everything to someone who is treating us badly, let alone our children, is a recipe for becoming a “doormat” for others.  In short, we are laying ourselves down on the ground and letting people walk on and wipe their feet on us.  That’s not right.  We are people too and it doesn’t matter who they are to us.  

Sadly, sometimes, we have to let them go and hope that they will eventually come back otherwise, we risk our lives becoming infected with toxicity.  

There’s no bigger health threat than having someone we love, treat us like dirt beneath their feet and making us feel like we don’t matter in this life.  That goes for our adult children.  We all need to feel wanted, loved, respected and treated fairly and well.  We deserve that from others especially, the very children that we lovingly raised to the adult level and oftentimes, sacrificed more than a good night’s sleep for.  Many parents can tell stories of having given up great careers, being able to travel or do things that they, themselves wanted to do for themselves that would have made them happy, in order to give everything to their child or children, leaving themselves unhappy, unfulfilled and only to be treated in an abusive, uncaring manner or worse, have that child or children walk out of their lives, without contact, care or concern for their parent(s) and their well-being.

More to the point, those children have become what one can consider a “toxin” to the parent, making them feel as though they’ve wasted those years of their lives on someone who cannot or more to the point, return that love, care or respect to their parents.  Not only that but, it wears on the parent’s psychological well-being and soon after, their physical health.  It’s a vicious cycle especially, when the parent continues to feel as though they simply need to do more, try harder, give more or plead with that child to keep their love or the adult child in their lives.  It’s akin to a dog or cat, chasing their own tails.  It’s a fruitless exercise in not only futility but in a form of an illness of one sort or another.  It won’t change your child and sometimes, the only way to make one person’s lives healthier, is for the parent to either distance themselves, limit their time or exposure to that child’s ill behaviour and treatment or, to completely walk away if the child doesn’t do it for themselves.

Yes, that all sounds counter-intuitive to what we feel or have been taught to think of as “proper parenting” but, this all leads back to the original question….

If this were anyone else in your life, would you continue to let that person abuse or mistreat you?

If your answer is “yes” then you, yourself need to find some counselling because you’re not valuing yourself as a person and instead, are valuing others above yourself.

If you answered “no” to this question then, why are you allowing and encouraging your adult child to continue to do it to you?

From my little corner of life, while this is a longer piece than I usually write, it’s an under said topic that needs addressing more and more fully.  We’ve turned out a couple of generations of children now, both adult and children who need to learn that you aren’t rewarded for treating others poorly.  There are consequences to their behaviours and reactions to their actions of equal or greater proportion.

Be well and let me know what you are dealing with in the comments, please.

Best wishes from one parent to another or to adult children who might be reading this and recognizing what may be happening in their own relationships with their parents.

Comment!

 

 

 

Dear Prime Minister Trudeau: A Canadian Letter On Dealing With President Trump

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Dear Justin:

We know that your good looks, charm and ability to awe crowds with your speeches and our money has gotten you as far as The Donald’s rants and lunatic acts have gotten him but, the time has come for you to actually act like Canada’s Prime Minister by standing up for Canadians with Trump at the helm now.

Your endless trips, handing out money all over the globe may have to be curtailed because you have Trump to deal with now and it’s going to take a lot of thinking, not charm or boyish good looks to win this one for the Canadian peoples that you have been sworn in to serve and protect.

It’s a well known fact that Canadians are polite and will try not to ruffle feathers however, that tactic will likely not work on Mr. D.J..  Giving him a congratulations and an extended hand to shake then, traveling off to other foreign countries or yet your 10,000th trip across Canada isn’t going to cut the mustard with a man who has more money than God and a mouth to boot.  Just as you don’t know what you’re doing as Prime Minister because you were never really a politician (no, you can’t count being the son of one), Trump wasn’t either.  Equally, just as Trump got into The White House because voters were fed up with politicians in Washington, you got in because voters up here were fed up with the status quo in the Conservatives.  Oh yes, and your pretty boy smile and muscles and…well….let’s not forget that you have your father’s last name too.

Let’s not forget that Trump is like a bull in a China shop while you’re still playing the role of the nice kid in the playground, giving out candy to be liked.  It isn’t going to work on Trump.  He hates candy and nice kids.  He wants to go out there, build walls around the country and grab women’s p*ssies.  Still want to play ball with him nicely?

Prime Minister Trudeau, do you think that you could grow a pair as well as a real back bone and stand up for the voters in Canada who voted you into office, keeping our rights and wellbeing in mind as you engage in politics with President Trump?  Do you think you could stay in one place long enough (Parliament would be nice) to build a strategy for dealing with Trump when he dumps Canada’s sorry arse into the Atlantic or Pacific ocean or decides that another wall between our two countries would balance out the one he wants Mexico to pay for?  Or, will you simply hand him over the money, straighten your tie, gel your hair and go on with your days in office?  Please don’t try to hone your Twitter skills.  Trump has that down pat already.

Canadians may be a polite bunch, eh?  However, we can guarantee you that there’s enough Canadians who will put on running shoes and march the streets of the major cities in Canada if you aren’t on guard for us.  Despite the cost of gas, our Loonie being worth nothing against the green back, we can still get to those cities to protest loud and clear.  Don’t make us do it, please.

Sincerely,

The Canadian Peoples

 

Happiness Part V: We Know Too Much

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Day in and day out, we are being bombarded with information.  Some of it will be correct and some of it will prove to be incorrect yet, we will absorb it all as though through osmosis.  Whether we are truly paying attention or we’re subliminally and subconsciously picking it up, we have most of that info, rumbling around in our brains somewhere and it’s acting upon us like a slow release pill, coming out in dribs and drabs. It’s likely that we don’t even recognize that info is there or that we’re utilizing it in one way or another.  Our brains are wonderous machines with a filing system that makes computers look like toys.  Reality is, we know far more than we need to know and it’s causing us both stress and distress.  It’s a road block to being happy.

Remember back a few entries ago when the scenario of children being happy was the centre point of that piece?  If not, you can review it here.  Part of the reason that children are generally happy is that they don’t know enough to be un-happy.  Not only have the brains of children not developed enough but, they don’t know enough to be upset, stressed, worried or any of the adult things that we, as adults, have come to learn to do.  They live in moment because they can’t really foresee much trouble in the future.  Ignorance is sometimes, bliss.

Let me give a scenario here that may help demonstrate that point better.

Two men are in a car, stuck on railway tracks.  They cannot move back nor forward.  The elder gentleman in the car has a form of dementia and is busily reminiscing about days gone by that he remembers with fondness.  The younger gentleman, fully able to compute the dangers of what is happening, is trying not to frighten the older man while trying to start the car again with no success.  Off in the distance, he sees the faint lights of an oncoming train and keeps trying to start the car, filled with panic now.  The elder man is completely unaware of what is happening and continues on his trip down memory lane with pure joy and delight, laughter and a smile while beads of sweat drip down the younger man’s forehead.  Finally, in vain, as the train approaches rapidly, the younger man exits the car, opens the door of the passenger’s side and drags the old man out of the car to safety.  The train soon demolishes the car into a tangled heap of metal before coming to a stop.  The young man tries to catch his breath while the elder gentleman simply says, “why did you stop me?  I wasn’t finished my story.”  Both men experienced the same situation.  The difference in their reactions were simply that the younger man knew what was going to happen while the elder man was blissfully unaware of the danger lurking down the tracks.

None of this is to say that we shouldn’t be aware of dangers or ignorant of facts nor, uneducated.  What it is saying is that we are overloaded with information that oftentimes, is false, misleading and most importantly, un-needed.  We can’t be child-like because we now know too much.  As a matter of fact, we know more than we really need to know and that, in and of itself, causes stress, distress and un-happiness.  We are now incapable of simply living in the moment and being amused with simple things like the taste of our coffee, the smell of freshly cut grass, the clouds that are floating past us above, the purr of our cat, the sound of a stream, a song that we love or many other of the most soothing and amusing things in Life.  Instead, we are analyzing everything silly, thinking about what lays ahead, how much damage it’s doing to us and the world, some study that proves that the caffeine in our wonderful tasting coffee can kill us or how the water in our bottle of water might pollute the earth or be polluted by the chemicals in the plastic bottle or wax that lines the paper take-out cup is toxic.  We’re usually reading or listening to the news which is filled with doom and gloom as that is what sells air/paper time and we’re using technology devices such as our cell phones to look up more crazy-making information.  The list is endless as to how information is slowly not only taking away our happiness and ability to be happy but, is potentially causing us stress that will or could kill us sooner or later.

How many shootings do we need to hear about before we can say, “there’s a lot of kids, killing others with guns”?  How many studies have we all heard, read or talked about that eventually get reversed or at the least, changed because newer studies have proven differently and yet, we’ve given up that great tasting coffee or bread or eggs and, it’s now not only ok to have them but, we find out we should have been having them all along as they’re beneficial to us?  How many car accidents do we need to see on the news at night with people we never met, don’t know and never will know before we get the idea that driving a car in today’s world and in traffic or driving distracted or impaired, can kill us? Do we really need 24/7 news stations that cover a story live and have “experts” on panel to discuss every nuance of the situation?

The bottom line is that we have far too much information floating around in our heads that not only don’t serve us beyond simply having a fact/knowledge but, are harming us in one way or another.  It’s all certainly a stumbling block towards being happy.

If you want to feel a bit happier,

  • Turn off the news or put down that newspaper
  • Quit Googling or Binging or whatever search engine you use for a bit
  • Turn off your cell phone or use it to actually CALL a friend or relative and enjoy talking to them instead of texting or ignoring them.
  • Stop taking every study too seriously because it will eventually turn out to be changed or reversed by another that will follow.
  • Either turn up your favourite music and sing or dance with it or, listen to the birds chirping, the stream sounds or your cat purring for a change
  • Watch a comedy or inspirational movie instead of a horror, police or crime show
  • Read a book or story with an inspirational message behind it
  • Buy yourself an adult colouring book and colour for a change.  Heck, get out the crayons and colour a child’s colouring book.
  • Ditch the “Know-It-Alls” who are walking encyclopedias but, are as negative as hell
  • Limit time with or eliminate those people who are bringing you nothing but headaches or demands for you doing something for them
  • Spend more time with people who make you feel good and most of all, make you laugh
  • Get silly. Roll down a hill, play with toys, splash around in a local pool just for the fun of being in water and weightless or buy yourself a teddy bear.  Seriously.
  • Stay out of your head and thinking for even an hour a day.  Just pay attention to things around you that are soothing and relaxing.  If you can’t find that, find them in your memory bank.  They’re there, believe it or not.
  • Be thankful for what you have right now even if it’s not your dream situation
  • Set aside a worry time of 20 minutes where you write your worries out into a dollar store notebook then shut the journal and tell yourself worry time is over until your next planned session then, get on with something light, silly and funny

These are just a few ideas.  There are plenty more.  If you’re going to Google anything, search for ways to have fun.

Stay light, stay laughing, stay away from people or information that brings you down to a stressed out level as much as possible.  Just be.  Be in the moment and enjoy the little things in Life.  Be happy!

Blessings, Love and Light from my little corner of life to yours.

 

Happiness Part III: Can Our Thoughts Create Un-Happiness?

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As adults, we’ve become trained as well as training ourselves, into believing that we are responsible for all that happens in our lives and if we are parents, in our children’s or even spouse’s lives.  That means that we often place the burdens of making everyone happy and taking everyone’s happiness, well-being and other needs onto our own shoulders.

We’ve also learned that “bad things” can happen and often do.  We listen to the news every night which is geared towards only the catastrophic, death, war, politics and we are seeing loved ones, friends and others we cared about, dying.  We have lost that innocence that we possessed as children where the world is magical and besides a scraped knee or a fight with a friend (which usually lasts a whole day or two before playing again with one another), we don’t know that the world can be a hard, cold and harsh place.

If you have been reading my series on being happy, in Part II, I talked briefly about children, our childhoods and generally, most of us were fairly happy.  We found wonder and magic in practically everything that we did.  Of course, there are exceptions to that rule in families that were dysfunctional and children were fearful of every day and what it would bring.  On the whole though, as children, most children are happier than adults for some fairly simple reasons, the least of which is that our brains haven’t been trained or formed enough yet to see that life and this world can be a harsh place to be.

I’m not a neuroscientist nor, do I understand the mechanics of the human psyche or brain.  What I do know is that the way that we think is what affects our moods.  We cannot have an emotion, without having a thought.

Let’s take the example of a husband and wife coming home from work.  Both have put in full days so, they agree that making dinner shouldn’t be left up to one or the other but, should be done together.  There’s equal responsibility happening in this case and dinner is put onto the table.  The husband sits down, looking at what he sees and feels is a delicious looking meal to be eaten with his wife.  His feelings are those of joy and happiness.  The wife, on the other hand, sees the same dinner table, same food yet her feelings are anything but happy or joyful.  As a matter of fact, she has a knot in the pit of her stomach.

They are both facing the same table, same home, same meal, both did the work and both will clean up afterwards.  There’s seemingly no difference, is there?  However, there’s a difference in their feelings.  Why?  What is it that makes two people, facing the exact same situation and circumstances, same responsibilities, feel so differently?  And, no…it’s not because men are from Mars.

The difference is their thoughts.

Husband is thinking thoughts like:

  • “Look at my wife.  I’m so lucky to be able to share this dinner with her tonight.”
  • “Aren’t we lucky to have that slow cooker?  That pork roast looks so delicious.”
  • “After dinner, I’m going to stretch out on the couch and watch the ball game.  I’ve been looking forward to that all day.”
  • “This smells so good and I’m really hungry tonight.  I can’t wait to dive into this dinner.”

Wife is thinking these thoughts:

  • “I should have made just a salad.  Look at the calories in this dinner and the potatoes are carbs galore.  I’ve ruined an entire day’s worth of eating healthy.  There goes my diet.”
  • “I really should put away that slow cooker.  It’s too easy to throw in a roast and add quick side dishes.  I’m getting lazy now with cooking. I’ve been lazy with everything lately.  I’m really a bad person and wife! What is wrong with me?”
  • “After dinner, I’m going to have to get onto that treadmill and work out to burn off some of these calories.  Oh, wait, I can’t.  I told Clara that I’d call her to work out the plans for our bridge get together next week.  Why did I think I should play bridge?”
  • “Now, I’ve lost my appetite.”

Two people with extremes in thinking.  That’s the only difference between the shared experience with one feeling joy and happiness and the other, feeling like they’re having a panic attack.

Happiness is a complex emotion and involves many different mechanisms.  Women cannot think like men necessarily as women have hormones and all sorts of brain wirings (again, I’m not a neurologist or scientist) that men don’t.  Women can be thinking 20 thoughts at once while men are really only focusing on the task at hand for the most part.  That’s not to say that men don’t worry or can’t become obsessive over things too but, it’s to say that the thinking patterns in men and women are different therefore, what a man finds as happiness, a woman may not.  A lot of that will have to do with a difference in thinking patterns and thoughts.  We also can’t include people who have a true mental/emotional disorder or brain chemical imbalance in this but, by and large, most who can’t find happiness, are searching for it when much like The Wizard of Oz, the answer was right there all along, under their noses.  Their thinking patterns.

Change a thought and you change the emotion.

It’s this concept that makes a difference.  Children are generally happier because they don’t know enough to be worried, fretful, concerned, upset etc., at least not for long.  An adult has been trained to see the bad first and the good second.  A child will see almost every moment as an opportunity to find something to make them happy while an adult will usually find something in every moment to be concerned about.  That’s trained into us as we grow and our brains mature.  It’s also part of our experiences but, on the whole, adults tend to be far less happy than children because they’ve trained their thinking patterns into those of worry, fear, upset, self-belittling, catastrophes, blocking out most of the positives in life.  Life and other people teach us to think that way as we grow.  Teachers, bosses, peers, co-workers, media and so much more.  Even Facebook can make us feel like we’re losers because everyone else’s lives seem charmed when looking at their personal walls by comparison.  It’s not them who do it to us.  It’s us.  We know that no one’s lives are as perfect, joyful or seemingly wonderful as what is portrayed on Facebook yet, we still take it at face value on a subconscious basis.  Equally, or more one-dimensional, is the news where it’s filled with disasters, death, wars and creates things to fear.

More than anything, we learn as we grow to become “responsible” and we long since have given up on things that used to make us happy.  We can’t find the time any longer for such trivial things.

We have “too much to do and take care of,” we reason within ourselves. “There’s no time for laying back in the grass, relaxing, watching the clouds and I’d break bones if I rolled down a hill now.  Did I put sunscreen on?  I don’t want skin cancer!”

If you doubt what is being said here, take the time for the next day or two to make a list of the thoughts that run through your mind.  Don’t edit them.  Just write them out.  I’m going to be doing the same thing and, we’ll regather to see if we can see patterns, ok?

In the meanwhile, stay tuned for Part IV on being happy.  It’s coming.

 

Helping Can Become An Addiction Or An Escape

Helping others is a noble cause and more often than not, people need and want help to some extent or another but, when it becomes a habit within oneself it’s no longer about helping but, rather an outward expression of how one is feeling about themselves internally.

There’s a pay-off for chronic helpers in many ways but, there are two main reasons why people can get caught up in a vicious help cycle and it can become an addiction.  For some people, helping is like needing a “fix”.

Help Addictions can become an escape method.

Help Addictions can become an escape method.

 First, chronic helping can help us divert our attention away from dealing with something within either ourselves or our lives.  In other words, instead of working on what ails us and our own lives, we have the excuse, “I never get around to taking care of that because I am so busy helping (fill in the blanks here).  It can become an escape or an excuse or both and, that stops us from having to deal with our own issues.

Secondly, it can become a method by which we try to feel loved, wanted and, or needed by others.  If we are helping others, they will like us, thank us and want us around them type thinking.

In either case above, the chronic helper is not quite as healthy or altruistic as one might believe.  Even on a subconscious level, possibly totally unbeknownst to us, there’s something in it for those of us who do it.

It took a long time for me to get the idea that helping others is no guarantee of being loved, liked or wanted nor, is it truly an escape from having to fix what is going wrong within ourselves or our own lives.

I endured a lot of hurt, rejection and internal feelings of inadequacy, driving me even more towards more helping…until I realized that the source of my pain was actually coming from my chronic feeling the need to help.  I wasn’t feeling good anymore about it but rather, it was bringing me more pain.

Why?  That was the question I had to ask myself and I went in search of answers with a shocking set of revelations.

Helping Too Much Can Cause Rejection From Others 

Contrary to popular belief, what is called “Karma” doesn’t exactly work the way that one would think or hope that it should.  Doing good doesn’t alway bring good into your life.

Helping others can actually drive people away from you.  Here are several different reasons how and why.

  • People like what you DO for them, not necessarily, you.
  • The people that you help on a regular basis will eventually get used to you doing for them and therefore, come to see your help as your “job”. At that point, your help is no longer truly appreciated but, they become complacent and expect that type of behaviour from you.
  • Those you have helped often enough, will eventually show a vulnerability within  themselves to you and the last person that they want around them are those who know their weaknesses. They will seek out others who aren’t aware of them being weak in any way especially, during the good times in their lives.
  • Chronic helping can lead others to see you as a doormat.  When you are readily and frequently ready to help them, people can come to feel that you have no life of your own so, they no longer respect your time, energy or effort.  In effect, it’s like they’re doing you a favour by giving you something to do with your days, time and energy.
  • Being available and giving to them on a regular basis, without return expectation or as a constant set of favours, gives the impression that you have no boundaries.  If you have none, why should they respect you.  People like and respect people who like and respect themselves.
  • Your help can be resented because the person tends to feel constantly indebted even if only on a subconscious level and without you having indicated that you expected anything in return.  No one likes feeling continually indebted to someone else.

Ways To Deal With The Need To Chronic Help

  • Ask yourself what you are getting out of helping others.  You’re getting something out of doing this. Is it that “feel good feeling”?  If so, you might need to break that feeling down a bit further.
  • Helping others makes us all feel good but, doing it on a regular or chronic basis, may be becoming a a “drug” of sorts to numb or squash what ails you and your life.
  • Ask yourself what it is that is going on within yourself or your life that gives you the longing for this “drug”.  Is it approval, love, companionship, being needed, wanted, or even wanting people to feel indebted to you to in order to keep their loyalty.
  • Are you avoiding fixing issues within your own life and using helping others as an excuse as to why you can’t get to repairing what is wrong?
  • Could you be feeling guilty that someone else is in trouble of some kind and you’re soothing your own feelings of guilt for being ok in your own life in some way?
  • Are you too empathetic and over-identifying with other people?
  • Once you’ve weeded through the possible causes that keep you hooked on being a Chronic Helper, you can take action towards halting your need for over-helping.

Breaking The Cycle And Why You Should

The “warm and fuzzys” that we all feel when we get “thank you’s” from others is a great feeling.  We all love to feel good about ourselves, appreciated, needed and wanted.  It’s part of human nature and helping others is a good thing but, only when done in moderation and for the right reasons.  When we do it to garner love, attention, affection, being needed, wanted, liked or to avoid facing our own demons/quelling them, we are putting ourselves into a position to be used, abused, hurt and rejected.  Here are some points to help.

  1. Once you have identified the reason that you feel the need to chronically help.  STOP and listen to yourself and your inner voice.
  2. People like and respect people who like and respect themselves. We teach others how to treat us.  If you’re not respecting yourself, your time or your energy, they won’t either.  Put up boundaries and conditions for yourself and others.  Stop yourself before you try to help and place a value upon your help for them and yourself.
  3. Limit the amount of time that you’re going to help and what you will do to help.  Remember, their lives are NOT your responsibility (unless you’re a caregiver for a child, infirm or elderly person/pet.  Even then, give yourself time for yourself and respect your own needs too).
  4. If you’re doing it because you want to be liked, loved, appreciated, wanted, needed, are lonely or anything along those lines, this isn’t the way to get any of that for more than a couple of times.  Remember, people start loving what you can do for them, not you, after awhile. You’re working against getting those needs met by attempting to achieve it via chronic helping.
  5. Ask for something in return for your help if it’s more than once or twice. People respect help more when it’s being paid for in some way or another and they’ll respect you for it too.
  6. If you love that warm and fuzzy feeling helping gives you, volunteer!  There are charities all over the world and all sorts of opportunities to help others in organized, time-limited ways where you can get that feeling but be cut off in appropriate and healthy amounts.  Don’t volunteer more than what is being asked for either.
  7. Remember that sometimes, chronic helpers actually push their help on others..even when it’s not wanted.  When someone says, “it’s ok”…trust them.  It’s ok.  They don’t want or need your help.  Save yourself some heartache and possibly nasty feelings from others.  Back off and let them do it themselves.
  8. WAIT to be asked for help then, ask yourself what it will cost you to help them.  If it’s only once in a long while that you’re being asked and it’s not taking away from you, do it but, don’t anticipate everyone’s possible needs and offer it up on a silver platter.
  9. Remember that some people like being in certain predicaments and don’t want to get out of them.  When you recognize that in someone, back off. Let them be where they are.  They are getting something out of being there. Let them have it and figure it out for themselves.
  10. You’re not the only fish in the sea who can help.  Realize that and recognize that everyone has lessons to learn in one way or another.  Some people need to learn how to help themselves and others need to learn how to help others.  Let people learn what they need to learn.  You’re not a deity nor, omnipotent. Everyone needs to learn something, somehow.  Even children need to fall, get burned, hurt, lost etc., to learn what NOT to do and what to do.  Don’t take away their learning curves from them.

The Meddler, The Dupe And The Martyr

Lastly, think to yourself as having been labelled for helping others too much.  A lot of people will look at those who are chronic helpers as either “The Meddler”, “The Dupe” or “The Martyr”.

When people help too much, they often know a lot about the person’s personal life and, when not wanted, it turns you into a meddling position in their minds.  They can see you as someone who wants into their minds and lives especially, if you’re pushing your help onto them.

The Dupe is the one that people often think of as “good ole so-and-so” and often follow that with an “I’ll get her/him to do it!”  That’s when you’ve become nothing more than a doormat for them.  You don’t mean anything to them other than as a vehicle to get their needs met.  They’ll be off with other friends or family for lunch, dinner and shows who have done little, if anything for them while you’re left scratching your head, wondering why.  You’ve been “duped”.

The Martyr is the person who does so much for everyone else that others are reminded (whether you do it or not) that they’ve done a lot for that person or many.  Guilt sets in that they’ve allowed you to do it all for them and suddenly, they’re feeling inferior or as though you’re superior to them.  No one likes to be around people who make them feel that way whether intentionally or through their own inner thoughts and feelings.  You’re out of any of the good times or any lasting, healthy, fun and good relationship with them if you continue on with it.

Learn to love yourself.  Help yourself first.  Put your own oxygen mask on first.  To thine own self be true.  Charity begins at home.  Old but, wise pieces of advice to take. Take care of you first and others will follow suit with you.

I’m not a trained professional of any kind so, this is just how I’m seeing things from my little corner of life through experience and learning.