So – my drivers.
‘Please’ is another huge driver and, if I’m honest, probably more of script. It stops me from saying no, and drives me to do things I resent in order to keep everyone happy. It stops me from being honest, challenging others, getting angry, and dealing with people who piss me off. I tend to smile then whinge, agree then grit my teeth, walk away then kick myself for not being genuine. I get a huge rush from rescuing people, sorting things out for others, and having people be grateful for what I do for them and this feeds into my ‘be strong’ driver too which can be a bloody toxic combination. While there is often nothing wrong with getting strokes from helping people and doing stuff for others, there is a negative payoff when I feel overworked or under-appreciated. My ‘please’ comedown manifests as a sulk, a covert bitching and occasionally and most painfully, depressive episodes. I know it probably comes from wanting to be good and liked when I was growing up, but finding that being liked is often conditional on behaving a certain way.
Some of my most used sayings are, ‘It doesn’t matter’, ‘I’ll do it’, ‘Don’t worry, it’s okay’. Today I chose not to use those. I had agreed to do some work to help a colleague even though I feel that I am doing more than enough and that my colleague has chosen to offload a good chunk of his work to make space for some personal development. I’ve felt resentful for a while – the usual questions around how someone can be selfish etc. To cut the story short, he made a mistake that meant the work that I had done was unnecessary. When I pointed this out and said that I was unhappy, he told me I was behaving unprofessionally. I refused to accept this and pointed out (calmly) that I felt aggrieved, angry, pissed off with feeling devalued and that I had every right to feel these feelings. I made a conscious decision to not give him the out of ‘it doesn’t matter’ because it bloody well did. I asked him to accept that I felt this way and said that I expected no judgement from him but simply to sit with it.
Shit this is frightening. What I get though is I don’t need his approval. I don’t need his ‘strokes’. Being really congruent means not excusing my feelings and not following the social niceties of giving people an out if it means walking away resenting him and hating myself for falling into ‘please’ again. What I get is that not behaving as I know another person wants me to behave to maintain their carefully constructed vision of me (and our relationship) can shake stuff up. I’m still shaking.
So in therapy, I cannot please my clients. They aren’t paying for me to give them a socially acceptable response – they can get that from anyone. Clients will want me to challenge, be real and give honest empathic responses to their experience. I’m getting that ‘please’ is patronising, because it means that I don’t trust the other to manage their feelings to my real response and cowardly, because I don’t want to deal with being disliked.