Do I keep on nursing grudges and resentment?
Or do I let it all go and blow the relationship apart into bits?
This is the worst dilemma that troubles approval addicts.
But do you know what’s funny about this?
There’s no dilemma at all.
Because these are not the only choices.
There is a third choice.
One that won’t require you to keep everything bottled in.
One that will free you from stewing in the juice of your own resentment.
And one that doesn’t need you to push everyone away and become alone.
So what’s that third choice?
I’ll come to that soon.
But before that let me tell you a story.
I used to struggle with these supposed two choices.
I use to go out of my way to take care of my family and friends and peer.
Oh, you need someone to buy and carry you the groceries for the month? Yep, that would be me.
Oh, you need somewhere to unload all your stress? I’m your man.
You want something and can’t be bothered to spell it out? You want to guilt trip me instead till I figure it all out? Sign me up.
You get the gist.
I had no concept of personal boundaries.
I wanted to connect with people. I wanted them to love me, appreciate me, and respect me.
And the only way I knew how to get there was by being a martyr.
By making myself a doormat over which they can walk upon.
And it never worked.
But did it stop me?
Nope. It just made me try harder.
I was terrified of being cast away if I stopped doing what I did for them.
And I was filled to the brim with resentment for them that they put me in this position.
It never occurred to me that saying No to them is also an option.
I was terrified of doing so.
I was used to imagining that the relationships hung by a thread. And a single No was enough to sever it off.
I continued doing so for 34 years of my life.
Sometimes that resentment came out as biting, sarcastic and hurtful comments.
Sometimes it came out as a full-blown breakdown.
And then out of guilt and shame, I used to go into full approval addict mode to overcompensate for it.
I was trapped in this cycle of building up and blowing up.
I thought this is what you were supposed to do. That this how the world works.
Until the day everything changed.
(If you’re interested in that story – you can read it here).
After that fateful encounter, I was past caring.
So I started to assert myself.
I began to set boundaries against my family, my friends, and my peers.
I thought that I had lost the relationship anyway, so what else have I got to lose?
But then, something amazing started to happen.
My boundaries started to get respected.
And people started appreciating and respecting me more for setting them and enforcing them.
Talk about paradoxes. huh?
It was an eye-opener for me. So this was the third option that I was searching for all my life!
I learned that as long as I’m stating my needs and wants, my likes and dislikes in a respectful way – I have every right to do so.
I don’t have to keep them bottled in.
And it doesn’t mean the end of the relationship.
(Well the end of some relationships sure, where they were mooching off of you.)
But for the rest, they started to see me for who I am (probably for the first time in their life).
And I can’t express what a beautiful thing that is!
I could connect better with my family, friends, and peers. I started to get the love, respect, and appreciation that I always wanted.
Looking back, the key shift was that I stopped waiting for them to change their behaviors.
And started using my own power to set and enforce boundaries.
With the resentment out of the way, I could be more present with them and more grateful for their presence in my life.
And they in turn started to appreciate, respect, and love me more.
So are you still trapped between these two extremes?
Are you still bottling everything up for the fear of blowing everything up?
Then give that third option a try.
Learn how to become assertive and stay emotionally grounded.
Then say what you need to say.
Focus on your thoughts and feelings – no one can dispute them. And stay off of assumptions and judgment.
I can guarantee the results are going to surprise you.