Jennifer Hoffman – What do you do when you try hard to please someone and no matter what you do they refuse to see things your way or to compromise on their position? They want their way, no matter what, and they want you to honor their path, fears, and needs no matter how much it costs you in terms of your time, energy, or emotions.
You are at an impasse and you have to make a choice that you don’t want to make—to tell them ‘no’, and then deal with the consequences of their anger, do what they ask and then be angry with yourself, or walk away and risk that they will cut you out of their life (which may actually be a good thing).
Or you can be that person, feeling that you have to defend your place in life against everyone else and things have to go your way or not at all. Everyone in your life presents a challenge to your freedom and energy and you feel you must always assert yourself to ensure that your needs are met.
We face power struggles in our life every day and sometimes we have to decide between several unappealing choices. But we can only see it from our perspective and we don’t see what is really going on with the other person.
What do they want when it’s ‘their way or the highway?’
What are they afraid of?
What needs do they have that are not being met in their life?
Why do they have to put their needs above everyone else’s?
People who are very determined to get their way may be loud, angry, confrontational and even rude but at their core they are so afraid their needs won’t be met that they feel the only way to accomplish that is to force everyone around them to comply. And because they are loud and angry when they don’t get their way, many people do what they ask to avoid the hassle of facing their anger or trying to reason with them, which is impossible to do.
If we look at the difficult people in our lives a little more closely, the ones with a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude, we can see that they are very needy and are desperate for approval and attention. At some point in their life they did not get the love they wanted in the way they wanted it and they are going to ensure that they get it now. As far as they are concerned, everyone in their life is a source of meeting their needs.
And that includes you, if you are part of their circle.
What do you do? How can you meet their needs and maintain your boundaries? Lessons in boundaries often involve people who stretch our boundaries to their limit. Can we maintain our boundaries under pressure? Every situation provides a variety of choices, even with the loudest, most demanding people. We can give in because we don’t want to face their anger or we can look at their neediness and respond in a way that addresses their needs without doing something we do not want to do.
And we can realize that we can’t make everyone happy and if they are not willing to compromise then we need to look at ourselves and the kind of people we are attracting. If we have made it a habit to give in to them, it may take a few times for them to understand that the terms of the game have changed and we are no longer going to say ’Yes’ to everything they want.
We may have to be willing to put up with a little anger and resentment and that is where we back down because we establish our boundaries and then want everyone to agree with them. They may not and probably won’t.
And sometimes they will resent us for it. But that’s OK because it’s not about one person winning and the other losing, it is about compromise and you are not the person who must always compromise your position or yourself in these situations, even if you feel that is the only way to get someone to stop shouting, asking, or using some kind of manipulation to get you to do what they want.
But we take their pushback to mean that we are wrong, our boundaries are unacceptable, or we are not doing enough to help others.
Everyone has needs they think are important. When those needs aren’t met they become afraid and strike out at the person they think isn’t meeting them. That is when we can take a good look at what we do to avoid challenges and, more importantly our level of responsibility to others. We can take on the responsibility for solving others’ problems and meeting their needs or realize that everyone is powerful, we all have the same source of power and we choose how we use our power in our lives.
By thinking that others are powerless we take on the responsibility for their life and then offer our power to them. The greatest gift we can give to others is to see them as powerful and to recognize their inner power. Whether they can make the connections to it is their responsibility. And we can step aside and let them do that in their own time.
We’re coming into the end of a challenging year and this month is going to give us many opportunities to create strong energy boundaries. These are not necessarily to keep others out, although they can do that, but to help us manage our own energy. Who are we always doing things for, whose needs do we put above our own, who is the priority in our life?
Any area where this is a question is an area where you can be sure to get a lesson in creating boundaries that honor you and allow you to always act in integrity with your priorities, your self and you own needs. You can help others but not by assuming responsibility for their happiness.
And the people who approach you with a ‘my way or the highway’ attitude can be invited to sit down with you at the compromise table or you can send them down their highway, bless them, and tell them to enjoy the trip.
Copyright (c) 2020 by Jennifer Hoffman. All rights reserved.
SF Source Enlightening Life Aug 2020