You know how sometimes you have someone in your life that does something once, then twice, then again and again and again? And sometimes this is something you do not like or something that makes you uncomfortable. Or something that is just not cool with you. Or maybe there’s a stranger that does something that bothers you…maybe it even bothers you a lot.
But for whatever reason, you don’t say anything to either the known or unknown person. Maybe you are so shocked by the behavior that you simply don’t know what to do so you freeze. And you say nothing. Or maybe you’re afraid of confrontation. Or maybe you just feel like your thoughts and opinions aren’t important in this particular situation. But whatever it is, that feeling will eventually wear off and you may end up regretting having not said anything. Maybe you watch a little kid be mean to another kid. Or maybe you see someone smack a dog. Or berate their partner at the store. Or holler at their child in the market. Or holler at their child in their home, maybe your home. And while all of these things make you feel icky and bad, you simply don’t do anything about it.
Maybe there’s something about the behavior that you “secretly” like. Maybe you like the attention the behavior brings to you. Maybe it makes you feel good. Maybe it makes you feel special. Maybe it makes you feel connected. Maybe you like the clandestine nature of it, especially if you have to hide it from someone. I’m thinking of that co-worker you flirt with. Or the front office person at your provider’s office that you might be crushing on. Or the client that comes to your front desk all the time. Or the hot guy at the check out stand. And all of this attention make you feel more sexy, more desirable, more worthy.
Now, if the behavior is coming from a stranger that you will likely never see again, there is really nothing you can do about it after the fact. Liking it or not liking it really makes no difference. It is basically a one-off and a fleeting moment. And if you don’t act promptly, the moment is gone.
But what if the behavior is coming from someone that you see regularly, maybe even all the time. Then what? Will the behavior stop? What if it’s detrimental to you? Or to them? Or to someone else? Will they change how they are acting if you bring it to their attention? Will they make different decisions if you ask them to?
Here’s the thing. Change is hard, very hard, and people don’t often do it. People get stuck in their old patterns of behavior quite frequently. When someone tells me that their friend or partner or parent is “working on himself” and then proceed to tell me that they “aren’t working with a therapist or anything…just doing it on their own,” I tend to doubt that sustainable change is going to happen. Even if someone IS working with a professional, the change may not be permanent!
There are certain things about each of us that are simply hard-wired into our make-up. We have organic preferences. We have organic styles. And often these are things that we really can’t change, even if we want to, even if we try.
So if you are involved with someone and there is something about how they treat you (or someone else) that you want to stop, it likely WILL NOT. The behavior will likely happen over and over and over. I call it being on the carousel. And the only way, and I mean the ONLY way for the carousel to stop is for YOU to make it stop. The other person is likely (definitely?) going to keep going round and round and round…because they can. Because they know where your boundary is and they know how to move up to it without crossing it.
So if you’re on the carousel, regardless of what the behavior is, and you truly want it to stop, you must put the lever into the off position. It must come from you. It is your choice. And I believe in you and in your ability to get off the carousel. And I believe that you, yes YOU deserve to be treated in a way that honors who you are.