Tag Archives: mistakes

“People Pleasing” Behavior, Part 1

Traffic jam, Author Mario Roberto Duran Ortiz Mariordo (GFDL, CC Attribution 3.0 Unported)

  • You make a left-hand turn at an intersection, with your signal on well in advance.  The driver behind you stops in mid-roadway, and exits her vehicle to shout at you.  You can see her in your rearview mirror, gesturing wildly.   Puzzled, you re-examine your actions for several hours, in a fruitless effort to identify what you did wrong.
  • The vehicle behind yours persists in tailgating.  You can feel the sweat break out on your brow.  You check and re-check your speed.  Finally, the other driver tears past, and you breathe a sigh of relief.
  • Alone at night, in a deserted area, you nervously speed up after the vehicle behind yours repeatedly flashes its high beams.  When you do stop at a lit plaza, the other driver pulls alongside to berate you.  You are mortified, at a loss how to respond.

Admittedly, there are bullies and lunatics on the road these days.  And all of us make occasional mistakes, whether driving or otherwise.

The truth is that we cannot please everyone, even when we adhere perfectly to the rules of the road or the rules of civil society.  Unlike the rules of the road, of course, the rules of society are often ambiguous.

But the inability to please others is extraordinarily painful for those of us who are “people pleasers” as a consequence of child abuse.  Domestic violence only adds another layer to our distress.

We long for peace, and try to achieve it through compromise.  We twist ourselves into pretzels trying to please.

The problem is that we have deep reservoirs of undeserved shame.  Our first assumption, in the face of any confrontation, is that we must be in error.

Since all human beings are fallible, we can generally find flaws in ourselves.  These do not, however, justify abusive behavior by those with whom we come in contact.

This series will conclude next week.

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, domestic abuse, domestic violence, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Sexual Abuse, Violence Against Women

The Twins, Part 2 – Perfectionism

Siamese Twins, Nuremberg Chronicles (1441-1514) (PD)

Siamese Twins, Nuremberg Chronicles (1440-1514) (PD-Old)

This post was written in collaboration with Marie Williams whose remarks are highlighted.  Marie blogs at Come Fly with Me, https://mariewilliams53.wordpress.com.

We return to the topic of procrastination and perfectionism, related patterns of behavior in which many abuse victims find themselves trapped.

The part we play in creating our own dilemmas – the large and small crises in our lives stemming from procrastination – was discussed in Part 1 of this series.

Chance for Failure (Imperfection)

“…for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control” (2 Tim. 1: 7).

Apart from the problems it would generate for anyone, failure – defined by many abuse victims as imperfection, to any small degree – results in shame and self-revilement for us.  Since creating these dilemmas greatly increases our chance for failure, the question arises why we persist in creating them.

“The whole time I was procrastinating, I thought myself foolish, an idiot, a dunce, a failure, because who in their right mind, sees a fire starting or about to start, purposely hides the fire extinguisher, forgets where she has put it and then goes and reads a book, deciding to deal with the fire when it becomes bigger and more unmanageable?  Because that is what procrastination amounts to when you come to think of it in rational terms.  Yet I could not help myself.”

-Marie Williams

The obvious answer is that we do not believe ourselves capable of accomplishing the task at hand.  Putting it off defers the painful acknowledgment of our own inadequacy.  And it provides us an excuse for failure.  Had conditions been right, had we started on the task sooner, perhaps we might have succeeded after all.

Again, the question is why.  Why are we so certain of failure?  This goes directly to our childhood abuse. On an unconscious level, we create these dilemmas to replicate the abuse which is what gives them such power over us. 

We were told repeatedly how inadequate we were.  Told how ugly, stupid, skinny, fat, or retarded we were.  Told that we would never amount to anything.  Or we were ignored entirely, starved for food and affection both.

No shock that we doubt and second guess ourselves, wrestling over decisions.

“I floundered when faced with choices.  Wanting to please and be approved of ALL THE TIME, I became lost in my own lack of confidence.  This, I think, was due to the fact that I couldn’t manage the abuse.  I adopted the same response to situations which generated that same confusion in me.”

-Marie Williams

Failure becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Our abusers are “proven” right.  So it seems to us.  Our failure couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the damage they inflicted on us.  Nooo. Continue reading

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Filed under Child Abuse, Child Molestation, Christianity, Emotional Abuse, Neglect, Physical Abuse, Rape, Religion, Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Violence Against Women