From Trauma Drama to Ease in Relationships

From Trauma Drama to Ease in Relationships

I have a client who had 2 difficult housemates and didn’t feel like he could move.   He called them entitled, and he felt like they regularly demanded far more from him than they were willing to do themselves.    He often felt enraged, like a seething volcano about ready to erupt!  He didn’t feel like he knew how to react to these kinds of stressful relationships!

He felt resentful because he was doing a large majority of the shared responsibilities.   He was very concerned about saying something because he felt that, no matter how respectful he tried to be, they had a pattern of lashing out, being vindictive, or undermining his needs.

The Behaviors of Others

I suggested that we try releasing subconscious barriers to enable him to act in a way that the Dalai Lama would in this situation.

After doing so, he wrote them a carefully-worded email about shared responsibilities, and asked them to try to make sure they were each carrying 1/3 of the load.   He asked that if his perception was off, to please correct him.

Then came the backlash from one of the housemates.  She ranted about how he failed to see their contributions and that this was once again about misperceptions on his part.

He was quite sure that he was still carrying the vast majority of the responsibilities, and so said that he would put up a list where they could keep track, to eliminate any misperceptions.   He then followed up by putting a list on the fridge.

His housemate immediately took it down and claimed he was being petty.  Then she told him that he needed to assume good intentions on their part.

He realized that his housemates have a pattern of not wanting to talk about specifics, or to bring in objective parties to help work out their differences.   He also realized that they were clearly reacting out of fear, because they probably realized what he was saying was true.  He decided that this was their journey, and their limitations, and so he decided to not continue to argue…but to wait to see what would happen.stressful relationships

The next day, he noticed that one of his housemates had taken on the very responsibilities that he had mentioned.

He was going away the following weekend and asked if either of them could feed his cat for one night.  They both said they were busy.

He was concerned that they were trying to punish him for his request, so he decided to just leave extra dry food out for his cat.

Then while he was away, they both independently mentioned that they would be home, and while they were, would he like them to feed their cat?!

The big shift for my client was how he reacted to their behavior.

He now realizes that they are covert narcissists and thus he can expect them to react this way.    He also has realizes that this means that he can’t let that stop him from speaking up when he feels taken advantage of.  Stressful relationships don’t have to silence our ability to voice our own needs.

By speaking up for his needs and not backing off, but not engaging in excessive arguments, he is getting his needs met.   He knows that they will probably continue to have their own perception of reality, and that is their strategy for getting their needs met.   He has realized that he can’t let them manipulate him into giving up his needs.

It won’t be an easy journey, but he now feels like he can handle it without being consumed by rage, frustration and anger.

We thank the Dalai Lama for providing such an excellent model of how to be in this situation!

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