There is a great misconception amongst Codependents and that is – I can win the approval of people who don’t like me, by being overly friendly, by over-complimenting, over-dong and over-giving. At this time of year many of us will find ourselves in difficult situations, where we are forced to spend time with people, who trigger us and who, have a history of being unkind to us.
This need to have external validation runs deep. It is a coping mechanism that we learned as children when we were trying to win approval and affection from our primary caregivers. When our parents were in a bad mood, under the influence or even abusive, if we could make them happy and feel good, we learned, that they would often then be nice to us and give us the love and attention we were seeking.
This is a learned behavior, that has long outlived it’s usefulness. If you’re face to face with someone that treats you like you’re beneath them, do not attempt to engage in a friendly banter, where you tell them how great they look, or where you’re inundating them with complements, hoping that that will change their mind about you. If they are an emotional manipulator, their entitlement allows them to believe that they deserve those accolades you’ve bestowed on them and they won’t respect you for uttering them, because they know how badly they’ve treated you. It will in fact make them think even less of you.
Not Everyone Is Going to Like You and That’s Okay
There is a young woman, at my place of employment, who I would always get one word answers from, every time I tried to engage her in conversation. I would complement her hair or her clothes. One day, I decided to try an experiment. I came to the realization that she never engaged me in conversation. If I didn’t start it, nothing would ever be said. So I just stopped.
We now pass each other, in the hallway, in complete silence. We’ll both be sitting in the lunch room in total silence and that’s okay with me. I’m okay with the notion that I didn’t do anything to her and her behavior is about her not me. I don’t have any animosity towards her. I just know that I don’t need to spend any energy here and I certainly don’t need to win her admiration. Not everyone is meant to be on your team.
Be very mindful, especially this time of year, that you aren’t trying to buy anyone’s affection by spending a ton of money, that you don’t have, on gifts for them. The same rules apply. If they weren’t nice to you before, a gift isn’t going to change their minds – even a very expensive gift. All that will happen is you’ll get the same treatment and be out the money you’ll wish you hadn’t spent. If you’re in a gift giving situation, with people you don’t like, or who don’t like you, it’s time to set the rules about maybe only buying for the kids, or setting a low dollar limit. It seems nonsensical to buy gifts for people you wouldn’t otherwise cross the street to talk to.
What Persists is What you Allow
It’s very common for a Codependent to not want to rock the boat, to avoid conflict and keep the peace, even when they are being put down or insulted. The old adage, “You treat people who to treat you,” is a marker we should all live by. That doesn’t mean you get into screaming matches. It doesn’t mean you match insult for insult, or take passive-aggressive jabs. It means you don’t engage and you walk away from anyone who is trying to push your buttons. If they persist you can always say, “I’m not sure why you feel the need to talk like that (or to bring that up) and I don’t care, but I’m not interested in having this conversation with you, so you can stop right there.” Have a plan in place before you head into the lion’s den. Have a few conversation stoppers at your finger tips, in case you run into the need to use them.
But Sav, what about killing people with kindness? I get this a lot. I like the idea. I love the entire premise of it and I’m a total advocate of it. BUT ONLY when you’re not trying to win someone over with it. If you can take or leave them and you have no interest in winning their approval – go ahead, but there should be a limit. You should always be practicing self-care and that means taking care of yourself first in every way – including financially. If you can afford the gift and you don’t care if they appreciate it – have atter. If you can honestly laugh off their insults and they don’t trigger or touch you in anyway – talk away. Kill someone with kindness when you are trying to maintain your inner flow, when you’re trying to keep your emotional vibration high.
Your level of engagement is always about you:
- When you don’t care – do, buy or say whatever you want, as long as you’re practicing self-care. You can kill em with kindness, you can ignore them – whatever you feel enhances your emotional vibrational level.
- When people still have the power to push your buttons and get a reaction out of you – limit your engagement, walk away and don’t react.
- If you’re trying to win them with gifts and compliments, you’ve got work to do. Stop, be mindful of what you’re doing and why you’re doing it. Some people just aren’t worth the effort and are deserving of your silence.
All of this is a process. You may not be emotionally able to kill someone with kindness yet. The end result is to not care what other’s think of you and where you are acting out of your own nature and what feels good to you. If you’re not at a level where you can do that – then don’t engage. Never, ever try to win someone’s affection. If it wasn’t there before, no gift or compliment is going to get you over that line. Save your money and your breath – better yet, buy yourself a present and give yourself a compliment. You’ve earned it.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!!!!!!
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