Posts Tagged: pain

Don’t Read This if You’re Going to Feel Guilty

Psychologists who study human behavior know that motivation is best understood on a continuum. On one side of the continuum is pleasure and on the other side is pain. At a primitive level, humans are motivated to avoid pain and achieve pleasure.

 I believe we do some things (maybe a lot of things) out of a sense of guilt. I hear people say, “Well, I’ll feel bad if I don’t do _____________,” or “If I tell him the truth, his feelings will be hurt…. And then I’ll feel so bad,” or “I better do ___________ because they’d think I was a ____________ if I didn’t.” They think that if that doing something to avoid guilt, they will be avoiding the pain. But the pain is just delayed. It always catches up.

When Sweet and Sassy were in elementary school, the pressure to be a volunteer was mounting. Holiday Party sign ups were the worst. The other moms (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!) brought Easter watermelons carved into flowers, and Halloween cheese balls that looked like brains with crackers that looked like spiders, and Coconut sprinkled snowmen that were too cute to eat. I brought wrapped cheese sticks in a Safeway bag. Boom! I figured the real reason I was there was to make the other moms feel good about themselves.

Anyway, one of the main reasons I even went to these parties so I wouldn’t feel guilty for missing it.

This is more my style...

This is more my style…

I’m here to admit that I will still do things in order to avoid the guilt that would accompany NOT doing them. But I’m fully aware what’s motivating me, and that is sometimes half the battle.

Being aware of the WHY you are doing something gives you more power the next time of whether you do it at all. Once you call it what it is, you have power over it.

Remember Adam in the garden of Eden? He was in charge of naming the animals, and then he was given dominion over every living thing he named. Same thing here. When you and I can name our Motivation- THE WHY- we can have dominion over it. Here are some “For Examples:”

  • I yell at my kids because I feel out of control
  • I drink  at night because I’m stressed/depressed.
  • I don’t exercise because I feel I’m too far gone.
  • I have difficulty setting a boundary with someone because I don’t want them to be mad or disappointed in me.
  • I do __________________  so others will think I’m a good person.
  • I Read this blog so Michelle won’t think nobody reads her blog. (I put that in there for giggles.)

If you’re doing something in order to avoid pain or to achieve pleasure, or simply not to feel “bad,” then call it what it is and sit with that for a minute. Then determine if you’d like to keep on doing it. 

If you read this blog because you’ll feel guilty if you don’t, or disloyal, or whatever, then STOP reading it RIGHT AWAY! That goes for anything that you’re doing out of guilt. Doing things out of guilt steals our life-blood like a leech on a plump fanny. But if you read this blog because you feel inspired and connectivity and energy- and because it brings you pleasure, then keep on.

“This lady keeps feeding me, so I keep coming back!”

When we do things out of love and passion instead of guilt and obligation, God’s in it. His love makes more love. His blessing makes more blessing. But doing things out of guilt and fear breads more guilt and fear. Like rats in London. Like rabbits in a garden. Like rampant baby vampires that want to suck you dry of anything good.

How about you? How have you stopped guilt motivated activities? What do you do instead with your time and energy? I’d love to hear from you.

Cheers to the Guilt-Free Freedom Fighters, the Mavens of Motivation, the Princess of Passion and the Sojourners of Love!

When “Sorry” Isn’t Enough

Have you ever received an apology you knew wasn’t genuine? The classic example is when a brother and sister are fighting and their mother makes them say “sorry.” The children’s eyes are downcast with furrowed brows. One is kicking the dirt beneath his shoe and the word “sorry” is more grunted than spoken. Each child knows that saying “sorry” is what’s required, but neither say it willingly.

Apologies are hard to give, except for when they come too easy. Today, we are going to talk about when “sorry” isn’t enough- when the hurt is so deep and the offense is so bad that a simple “sorry” is not going to cut it.

Years ago, I heard about a principle that changed the way I give and receive apologies. I call it The 20% Rule. It’s an old Jewish tradition. If your neighbor accidentally kills your $100 cow, they pay you for the value of the cow and then they add 1/5 of the value on top. The $100 is for the cow, and the $20 is to repair the relationship.

The 20% Rule takes into account not only the value of the cow, but also the value of the relationship. When your neighbor gives you 20% on top, it’s as if he was saying, “I’m really sorry about that cow, and I hope that we can still be friends.” The 20% is for the pain. The 20% is for the offense. The 20% is for the relationship breakdown.

If you’ve been hurt, offended or even betrayed, then you know how important “making amends” really is. But what does “Making Amends” look like? Feel like? Sound like? How do you know when Sorry is really sorry? How do you know if you can trust again? Here are some things to think about when you have been done wrong.

  • What is your cow worth? If you’ve been hurt, and the other party wants reconciliation, think of how much your cow is worth. The word “Sorry” is rarely enough for big hurts, so think of what you need to make it right. If it’s your spouse, will you require him/her to move into another room? Separate bank accounts? Commit to counseling? Find an extra job? Get into treatment for his/her addiction? Move out? Get some accountability? Your Cow is worth his/her effort to make things right. If you find he/she is not willing or able to make things right, replace what was lost, or take responsibility for his/her part, then you know that he/she is not ready for the relationship.

  • Hold out for your 20%. If your heart is hurting over the wrong that’s been done, that is a clear message that the relationship is still broken. It may not be severed, but it is broken. You will need a little extra to love again, to trust again, and to feel safe again. You can’t force these feelings, nor should you. It’s ok to take your time with healing, waiting and seeing, and keeping your verdict status as “out.” Your 20% may look like quality time together, or listening to your needs, or time for intimacy, or special gifts, or helping out with house or kids. You should see some extra effort so you feel valued again.
  • What will it take to trust again? Take time to list several things you need and want in order for you to trust your partner again. These things are specific to you and your needs. Your trust, more than anything has been shattered, and will take time and effort to heal.

What if the other person doesn’t replace the cow or cough up the 20%? What if he/she doesn’t see the necessity? What if the other person doesn’t hold the same value for the cow or the relationship? What is the person wants to buy you a goat or a chicken instead? Oh, this is a real pickle! Because it appears as though the person is sorry, and they talk as if they regret their actions, but when it comes to taking full responsibility and valuing the relationship, they just don’t. Their actions and their words are not congruent.  This is  a difficult spot for you to be in, because you may have to make serious decisions in order to value yourself, your cow, and your relationship. Only you know when enough is enough.

  • The bright side. Every bit of emotional and financial investment you put into your relationship adds up. Your relationship can become richer, deeper and more fulfilling when the 20% Rule rules the day. You can be at peace with your partner, and that although mistakes happen, forgiveness is possible. Intimacy is possible. Happiness will come back. Trust will come back. Couples who face betrayal and the path to forgiveness with these concepts as their guide, often come out stronger and better than before.

The 20% Rule is a great guide in reminding us all that the relationship is more important than the cow, that it’s ok to value yourself, and that investing in the relationship is worth it.

My “Relationship Savvy” blog gives you tips, advice, and flippin’ fantastic feel-goods to help with your most difficult relationship challenges.

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