I DON’T KNOW WHY
they’re being so mean to me!
PREVIOUS: INTERNAL damage
SITE: “Too agreeable’?
See ACRONYM page for abbrev.
The HIGH COST of ‘too nice’
Co-dependence is a survival strategy developed in childhood in an alcoholic or otherwise narcissistic family & community. They prevented us from developing a clear sense of our identity, so we didn’t learn how to be our own knowledgeable & loving caretaker.
Now, as physical adults – but emotional children – co-dep tactics are sneaky ways of expecting other people to provide us with all the things our parents didn’t. Unconsciously angry, we constantly look to others to tell us who we are, how we should act & feel emotionally, even to give us permission to exist!
This makes us vulnerable to the moods of others, as if their state if mind is a reflection on us – so if they treat us well we’re OK, but if they’re cranky, critical or just gone – we blame ourselves and feel bereft! With weak or missing boundaries we’re everybody’s puppet, jerking an uncertain way thru life
Q: What if the one basic requirement for boundaries?
ANS: Our NEEDS! Knowing what they are, having permission to own them & then implementing as many as possible.
You can not draw a line in the sand unless you know where that line is supposed to be – which can only be based on your True Self.
If you are a co-dep, then there’s a good chance you’re a people-pleaser (P-P) – who will do anything at all, no matter how humiliating & self-destructive – to keep others attached to us. Many ‘experts’ warn that being too nice will lead to a loss of self-worth – implying you had one at sometime in the past. This may be true in some cases, but not for most ACoAs. People-pleasing is rooted in & springs out of a lack of healthy core & basic self-esteem – to start with. ARTICLE: “The People-Pleasing Pattern”
Being “too nice” can backfire
a. Others often see it as a sign of weakness & some will use it as an opportunity to take advantage of you. (More in future post)
EXP: Researchers at Notre Dame University found that men who were considered “agreeable” (easy-going, cooperative) made 18% less money overall than less agreeable ones, & ‘nice’ women made 5% less than those who were less so. (Study)
b. If you’re ‘too nice’, wanting social harmony at any cost, you avoid conflict as much as possible, but end up harming yourself. Hiding from your own anger, & desperately afraid of making others angry at you, you’re much less willing to stand up for yourself, or say things like: “No, I don’t want that / No, I won’t do it / No that’s not what I meant….”
This avoidance actually creates more disruption, since problems never get aired or resolved, & in some cases cause others great harm as well!
EXP: Another study discovered that ‘nice’ people were more obedient toward authority & their rules – whether good or bad. When the researchers repeated the famous Milgram Experiment, participants who scored higher on traits like “agreeableness” & “conscientious” ended up giving higher shocks of pain.
Co-Dependence & Anger have a reciprocal connection. Some people compensate for their fear/terror of rejection – for having their own needs, opinions & emotions such as anger – by using people-pleasing tactics. But the longer they suppress their own needs & feelings, the angrier they get. (see also 3 posts)
Michelle Ferris (LMFT) offers 3 Co-Dep traits that breed anger & resentment
1. The Illusion of control — over others (the Serenity Prayer backwards)
2. Being a Superhero — always over-giving, never asking for help
3. The Lie of being FINE — superheroes aren’t supposed to be vulnerable & have needs (MORE….)
GIVER or TAKER??
In their book “The Givers & Takers“, the authors Evatt & Feld point out that – ironically – Takers are more ‘desirable’, in spite of & because of being less available, less forthcoming & less sensitive. When they do give – it’s more reluctantly, sporadically & for calculated reasons. They’re the ones who lean back instead of forward in their chair when having a conversation, who seem not to need anything, who have an air of mystery. Yet, they’re considered more sexually & socially attractive, while Easy/Soft is considered uninteresting!
The authors believe these are the Introverts of the world, while the Givers are the Extrovert. There may be some validity in that, because Introverts don’t need or want as much contact & interaction with others. But it’s not the whole story.
Introversion is an inborn characteristic & is not a sign of emotional damage.
On the other hand, dyed-in-the-wool Takers are more likely to be trying to compensate for childhood damage – withholding, arrogant, insecure & narcissistic – hiding behind silence, while feeding off of others who chase them.
Now, if you are the co-dependent Giver type, unavailables are like catnip to you – BUT you don’t want to be one of them! You’re too driven to give, sacrifice, be needed, rescue & fix – to be aloof. HOWEVER – if you are indeed an extrovert/ connector type by nature, you really do have a good heart, so it’s imperative you learn to moderate how much you give & to whom – if you want mental health & true safety. (Healthy Helping).
Not the Real you? Angry-niceness is a damage-trait, like all other character defects. The big mistake many of us make is to think these patterns represent our real personality, murmuring: “Well, that’s just who I am, I can’t help it.” Actually, it’s a manifestation of the False Self, rather than written in stone. So the good news is that it can slowly be changed, or at least greatly modified.
NEXT: Neg results – IN US