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Archive for March, 2015

If you do something for someone else make sure it’s for the right reasons.

I spoke to a woman in therapy who is annoyed with her mother. She says her mother volunteers to do things for her church group, such as prepare a meal or drive someone to the doctor’s. Then her mother complains about everything she does for others and that they don’t appreciate it.

I asked the woman why she thought her mother complained about being a good samaritan.

“Because she wants a pat on the back for everything she does,” she said. But, she added, “I don’t want to give her a pat on the back. Instead I’d like to slap her for her complaining.”

I told the woman I thought a slap was a bit drastic, to which she agreed.

It is a curious thing, however, that people volunteer to take care of others or jump in and take responsibility and then become irritated because they have so much to do. Or they feel mistreated because they don’t get the recognition they think they deserve.

This phenomenon is especially prevalent at Christmastime. A woman shops like mad for her family and all her relatives. Although shopping is work, she mostly enjoys the hustle and bustle of the mall. Each time she picks out a present, she gives herself a pat on the back: “What a good gift-giver am I.”

Sometimes she shows off her purchases to relatives and friends. But if the people she has shopped for are not as grateful as she thinks they should be, she’s miffed.

Now she moves into a victim mode and gets to fret and criticize and think, “After all I do for them.” In some ways she is double-dipping. She gets to enjoy herself while shopping and give herself strokes for being a good person. Then she allows herself to complain about how she’s being taken for granted. If she fusses loud enough, perhaps a few more nods of recognition will come her way.

If this scenario sounds familiar, decide that your reward is the pleasure you derive from shopping, giving and focusing on others. Decide, too, that you won’t grumble if people aren’t as appreciative as your efforts deserve. Remember the enjoyment you receive when in the act of doing for others. Don’t attach a string!

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How one woman handled her husband’s affair.
When Joan received an anonymous phone call informing her that her husband was having an affair, she said that she couldn’t breathe. “I think the phone call confirmed what I vaguely suspected,” she said.

“My husband, who had always been easygoing, had became hostile.” When Joan tried to find out why he was leaving so early in the morning for his job or what time he was coming home from work, he acted as if it were none of her business. “He also bought himself some new sweaters and pants, tennis shoes, and loafers.” When Joan shared information about her life or the children’s, her husband would act uninterested.

“I was spending a lot of hours at work, so I think I dismissed the changes that were occurring.”

After the phone call, Joan started checking her husband’s long-distance phone bills. She looked more carefully at the checkbook and the charge card bills. There were bills from florists and restaurants. “Restaurants we never went to. Flowers I never saw,” she said.

At first Joan thought of killing herself. “I just couldn’t make sense of it because I thought we had a good marriage. My husband even said we had a good marriage.”

When Joan confronted her husband, he gave up the affair reluctantly. He said, however, that he had never thought of getting out of their marriage. He bought his wife gifts, apologized, and tried to reassure her. When Joan would get angry and berate him, he’d take it. He refused to fight back and he kept telling her he was sorry.

After two or three years, Joan said she brought up the affair less and less. “I could actually get through an argument and not mention the affair. I still have pain, but I no longer obsess on how my husband could do this to me.”

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