"You don't have to do anything you don't want to do," a therapist said to me many years ago in response to my ongoing complaint that people in my life were fond of telling
me what to do.
It seems to be a common experience that there are some people who really like to be in charge of other people's decisions and actions, even the little things. For example, years ago I was hanging out with such a person when we went
to In 'N Out. He ordered a double cheeseburger with onions. When I ordered a single cheeseburger without onions, he made a somewhat loud remark that made it clear to me and everyone within earshot that he really wanted me to have
the same thing he was having. To avoid the conflict, at the time, I chose to comply. Today, I choose not to hang out with that person.
Complying to such commands is often done out of a sense of obligation or just plain inability to stand up for oneself. Why? Because it would cause conflict. The #1 reason why people do things they don't want to do is because
someone will be upset, angry, disappointed, hurt....(fill in the blank.")
In the family system I grew up in, it was drilled into my head that, "you don't hurt people's feelings." This became a core belief for me and has influenced my decisions my whole life. While it is a good thing to
avoid hurting other people's feelings, the problem with this belief is that many times, people are asking/telling you to do things that, 1) They can and should be doing for themselves; 2) Are projecting their stuff onto
you; or 3) Are their way of validating their own actions.
A lot of the coping strategies people employ are an unconscious attempt to make themselves feel safe in an unsafe world. And that is exactly what is behind the unconscious intention to control other people. It gives people a sense
of certainty in a world where there is none.
When starting classes at Kaiser, I often ask, "How many of you like to be told what to do?" Strangely enough, no one has ever raised their hand. So, clearly it feels safer to tell people what to do than to be told.
The cool thing about this topic is that Health & Wellness Coaching and Life Coaching are founded on the principle that people have their own answers and that it is the job of the coach to help them uncover them. So, you will
never be told what to do by a Coach who is properly trained.
If you find yourself complying with the commands of other people and would like to learn to stand up for yourself, please
contact me for Health & Wellness/Life Coaching.