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Guilt trip from 3rd party when setting boundaries
September 30, 2003
2:08 pm
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Nina Lee
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How do you deal with 3rd party people trying to make you feel guilty for setting boundaries? If I tell someone "no", or decide how far I am willing to go for someone, that should be enough, right?Especially when the person directly affected by this seems to accept it. So why should someone else, who is not even involved, tell me that I am being selfish?

Mr parents offered to babysit for me & my husband so we could attend a wedding out of town. They would be offended if I chose a neighborhood babysitter. My parents choose not to own a car. My father chooses to continue gambling and not purchase a car, even though he could easily afford one. My mother chose to never learn how to drive, even though several people, including myself have offered to teach her, many times over the years. But she refused. It was hard enough growing up in the suburbs with my mother not being able to car pool with all the other moms. I often felt badly about not reciprocating. My dad worked at night and on weekends, so he could only seldom drive me anywhere.

So, anyway, for whatever reasons, my parents choose this. My brother drove them to my house, but then left. After we came back from the wedding, which was a 3 hour drive for us, we were tired, but glad we got to go, as we really enjoyed ourselves and appreciated my parents watching our children. My brother did not come back to pick them up, not that he had to. We thanked & drove my parents to the bus stop for them to get back home, which was a 2 hour trip for them.

My uncle calls to tell me how selfish I am for not driving them back to their house! First of all, it is none of his business. But, even so, why should I have to drive 100 miles to bring them back to their house, then turn around and drive another 100 back, after already driving 3 hours? Just becuase they don't have a car & a car ride is better than a bus? Sure a car is better, so why don't they buy one? How is that my fault. I have not prevented them in any way from purchasing a car.

My parents said they didn't mind the bus, but maybe they too were hoping we would drive them all the way back, I dont know. If anything, why hasn't my uncle or anyone else laid any guilt trips on my mom for refusing to learn how to drive, when that hurt her children? Or my dad for gambling? Why are me & my husband seen as selfish & not them?

September 30, 2003
2:32 pm
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Ladeska
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Why are me & my husband seen as selfish & not them? ......

Now why do you even need to crawl inside their head and figure this one out? You know why you did what you did, you feel okay with it and that should be the end of it. You tried to accommodate them quite a bit here and considered their feelings by even have them babysit in the first place, which is a stretch in some ways because of them not having a car - what about an emergency? They wouldn't be able to take them anywhere if something happened and would have to wait on someone else to get there. I mean, you made alot of concessions here already.

I'd tell these other people to basically - mind their own business. Don't let this rock your world, okay? Good golden rule is - for some people to approve of you is an insult. Just say - thanks for sharing!

September 30, 2003
3:46 pm
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Nina Lee
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Hey Ladeska,

I just love your suggestion "thanks for sharing", that's perfect! I wish I had thought of it myself & told him that. I ended up getting defensive & I shouldn't have. Oh well.

I just don't get why they are seen as sympathetic victims anyway. I would think that any clear-headed person could see that me having to drive 200 miles, just to save them from a 100 mile bus ride, that they could prevent themselves, is ridiculous. To do that much driving makes it hardly worth going to the wedding in the first place.

And you bring up a very valid point with them not being able to drive in an emergency, which I have told them of these same concerns. They just say that they would call a taxi or ambulence, if necessary. I would much prefer that they have a car, it would make life so much easier. But, since they won't, I can't force them. I let them babysit as I still want them in my children's lives.

Thanks again for your wise words.

September 30, 2003
4:26 pm
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Ladeska
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How old are you kids, if I might ask? Maybe time spent with them should be otherwise - than them babysitting them. This thing of them not having a car, especially if your children are young, is a wee bit on the concerning side.

But to hell with the other guy's attitude. I'd just act like I didn't even hear him talking. Talk to the hand, Dude, talk to the hand and so like Anyways, how about them Dodgers!

And like I said, don't even worry about figuring someone like this out. To what end? You know b.s. when you see it flying, trust your own judgement and don't let them rattle you. They only do it because it does rattle you so take that right away from them.

September 30, 2003
5:48 pm
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Nina Lee
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Thanks again Ladeska. You're right, I should just trust my own judgement and not let anyone else try to rattle me.

My children are now 12 & 9 years old, but my parents have babysat them since they were little, both when they had a car & when they didn't. Whenever I would express concern, my parents would remind me that neither of their parents ever drove & they babysat us. As a matter of fact, you are about the only person besides me who has openly expressed my same concerns. Other people (other family members & friends) would tell me that I am lucky to have parents that offer to babysit & I shouldn't compalin about the car thing & tell me how there are lots of people who don't drive & they get along just fine.

So, as much as I trust my own feelings and instincts, it bothers me when everyone else seems to see things differently than me. Then it makes me start to wonder. Well, atleast now I know I am not the only to find this to be an issue of concern.

September 30, 2003
6:36 pm
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Ladeska
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It's hard to come from a "group think" kind of environment, whether it be a family, a circle of friends, a church, a cult or whatever....it's tough. Because when you give over your rights to a "group think", then that means you can't think things on your own unless they all approve and the group as a unit - says it's okay....

But many a child has been put in harm's way because they couldn't get help fast enough. I mean I'm all for the ambulance getting there but there are sometimes that - mean a few seconds are crucial. I've known alot of people in my lifetime that flew one of their kids to the hospital and if they had waited on the ambulance, it would have been too late.

If you are pulling away from the "group think" kind of thing here, just keep on trucking......because you're on the right path here. You have a good mind and you don't need to run it by the "group" or the "herd" or the "congregation" in order to get your thoughts approved of.

And you don't have to TAKE the henpecking that occurs when you dare to think for yourself and outside the box. To hell with the box, live in it yourselves and if I need your opinion next time - I'll ask for it and if you treat me like I'm dirt for not doing it "your way" then it will be a cold day in hell before I grace you with my presence. Relationships are built on something called MUTUAL respect and that door swings both ways - or it don't swing - at all.

Well, aren't YOU just the little rebel rouser these days!!??? Troublemaker, bad kid, delinquent, little hellun you!! Off with your head, huh? Yea whatever. Tell them all to pound sand! Go get yourself a t-shirt printed up that says - Leaving "Group Think"!

October 1, 2003
8:18 am
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Nina Lee
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I like your way of thinking, Ladeska. I am all for thinking outside the box and really hate conformity. Both of my sons are definitley very independent thinkers. They can be so stubborn at times, but I am so proud that they do not let others influence them at all, even if it means walking away from the whole gang of kids & that is just what they both do, when necessary. I wish I was more like that as a child. I always tried to be a pleaser, but I am now,slowly learning how crazy that really is.

I can almost picture the shocked looks on their faces and the comments, if I should ever dare disagree. But that is just too bad, they will just have to deal. Thank you again for all of your kind words.

October 1, 2003
11:24 am
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Anonymous
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Your uncle is actually saying: "I want you to give more to my sister than you've given". I don't know what the best way is to deal with someone guilt-tripping us into giving more. Of course, defending, justifying, listening to their lecture till they're done, attacking, etc. are not good ways to deal with it. I think I'd want to say: "OK, that's what you'd like me to do. Now I have to go. Talk to you later."

October 1, 2003
11:34 am
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Addendum:
Sarcasm or an ironic remark is not a good idea either, in my opinion. And anything we say in such an instance that pretends we're not seeing their trying to manipulate us, is sarcasm. Of all the people I know, I don't think there's one who would know how to respond in a non passive-aggressive way. Most would use the common justify then seethe and secretly revenge approach.

I think the best way is to aknowledge what they're doing in an indifferent, flat, non-accusatory tone. Something like "so you called to try to convince me to give more, ok." implying: Ok, I got your message, now I have more important things to do.

October 2, 2003
8:30 am
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Nina Lee
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Hi mafi, thanks for the tips. Yes, I guess most of us are caught off gaurd in these situations and our first instinct is to defend our actions and then seethe about it afterwards. I know I do that, especially when someone insults me in a subtle way, like with a back-handed compliment, because it takes me a while to even realize what happened. By then, it is too late to come back with something appropriate. Then I get mad at myself for allowing them to speak that way in the first place and imagine all sort of good things to say to them!

But, not getting defensive and showing indifference, is truly a great way of not giving them any power of you. Makes so much sense, but is so hard to do sometimes. But I guess with practice it gets easier & eventually people realize that they can't get a rise out of you and eventuallty stop trying. Hopefully, I will remember this next time it should happen. Thanks again!

October 2, 2003
1:35 pm
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Nina,

It not only shows them that they can't intimidate you. It does more than that. I have tried it a couple times and a miracle took place: the person (one of them even apologized) respected and liked me, suddenly, more than before the interaction. It's like they were soothed by my seeing, recognizing and accepting what they were doing and yet not accusing them. The relationship actually got closer and better. I know it doesn't sound like something that would make any sense, but that's what happened !

And yes, it does get easier with time and practice. I used to say I would never be able to react like that in real time, but I must say my therapist was right and today I do see the traps in real time and I do find the words in real time. It took me some 3 years to get to real time ability of a healthy reaction.

It's like when I was learning English, I would get frustrated because I couldn't respond to people as I wanted in real time, I had to look for the right words. But today I can speak English fluently, due to practice and more learning, and I can say in real time what I want. It's like learning a language.

But the most important of all is to be brave enough to spot in real time what we don't want to see and to acknowledge it and not to be thrown off balance or intimidated by it. That takes a lot of work on one's personal self-esteem issues too. Often we don't see it in real time because unconsciously we know it would devastate us, since part of us agrees with the critical person. When we learn that we're ok as we are, we're not afraid of seeing the manipulation in real time, for we know:

1. We don't have to hate the person for it.
2. We don't have to hate ourselves for it.

And we know that they can't hurt us. When we internalize that their criticism can't hurt us, we start living in much more harmony with ourselves and the other.

This is not theory, this is the path I'm walking nowadays, and I'm really happy about it, yay !

October 3, 2003
9:14 am
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Nina Lee
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Hi mafi,
You express yourself so wonderfully in your posts that I would have never even guessed that English is not your first language! You are doing a fantastic job!

I'm glad that your approach not only worked for you, but actually improved your relationship. That is really something! I guess it also depends on who this person is to you in the first place. The reactions may be different between a close friend or relative, who truly cares for you, than with maybe a co-worker or acquaintance, who maybe does not care so much for you & just wants to make you feel bad. But, either way, I realize that reacting defensively is not the best way to go.

It is so true that it is very difficult to react in real time, as it takes us a while to process the critical remark. We do not want to have to acknowlege it, especially if we think they may be correct in their criticism of us. I completey understand what you are saying about all of this, it makes sense. But applying it is another story. But I will try. Thanks again for your help. I am very happy for you that you are in the healthy place that you seem to be in, good for you! I will try to find the same.

October 3, 2003
1:20 pm
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Mind you, both cases were with coworkers I'm not close to.

Thank you ever so much for complimenting my English. It's more important to me than you know, especially today. Today I bought and started to read "Jane Eyre" by Charlotte Bronte, and I became extremely sad and frustrated about my English in comparison. I felt like an impostor; trying to write a novel in a language that is not mine by birthright, and allowing myself to indulge in enough grandiosity to convince myself that I could do it. I have written 1/10 of my novel and I doubt whether I have the guts to go on now that I have "Jane Eyre" to compare it to. Her language is awesome.

October 5, 2003
4:57 pm
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Nina Lee
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Oh mafi, how wonderful that you are writing a novel! Please don't beat yourself up and compare yourself to Charlotte Bronte! Keep plugging away and I am sure your will have something fantastic when you are all done with it. Just attempting such an undertaking is quite an accomplishment in itself. Be proud of yourself! Best of luck to you!

October 6, 2003
8:53 am
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Nina, thanks for the encouragement !

October 6, 2003
3:29 pm
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Nina Lee
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You are very welcome!

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