Let’s Not Be the Obnoxious One

Since we’re talking this month about the push back we get from loved ones when we’re trying to improve ourselves, we should also look at how we react, or sometimes over-react, to the push back. Here’s a lightly edited excerpt from Feel the Fear:

It is important that we learn techniques to create a win-win situation for all parties concerned. This is easier said than done. Behavior change is difficult enough without having to deal with the “crazy” behavior of the people closest to us.

Again, I speak from experience. When I went back to college, it seemed that everyone was upset—my mother, my then-husband, my children, and my friends. My mother couldn’t understand how I could “leave” my children; my husband resented the fact that I had a life apart from him; my children laid a guilt trip on me when I wasn’t there to administer to their every need; and my friends, who were then all housewives and mothers, sided with all of the above!

To say that this made me feel insecure about my decision would be an understatement. My reaction was to lash out at anyone who was giving me any difficulty. It was a period of great turmoil. At the time, I was not mature enough to understand why they were upset and to react appropriately. In fact, my inappropriateness was supercharged. I was often really obnoxious. I was acting out what I have subsequently called the PENDULUM SYNDROME.

As we strive for healthy assertiveness in life, we overshoot the mark in the beginning and swing from Passivity to Aggression many times before we settle into Healthy. More accurately, this swing could be called the PASSIVE-TO-OBNOXIOUS-TO-HEALTHY SYNDROME.

This swing to Aggression occurs as we hang on to our new behavior for dear life, afraid of reverting to Passivity once again. Yet, every once in a while, we get scared and do swing back again to a safe place. Hence, the pendulum swings back and forth as we learn the new language of Healthy Assertiveness. We go from Passivity to Aggression many times before we settle into an appropriate range. Ultimately, we do become more comfortable in expressing our needs and doing what we have to do in this world, and we settle down in the appropriate range. But in the beginning, this Pendulum Syndrome is a reality, and it causes much confusion and discomfort, not only for us, but for everyone around us.

Your awareness of the Pendulum Syndrome should enable you to bypass some of the swings and handle put-downs more appropriately. There are win-win ways of stopping negative feedback from others. You can learn to respond to significant others in a way that does not demolish them.