Sunday, November 20, 2011

Tyranny of the Weak, or the Badge of Victimhood

Off and on throughout my life I have thought of writing a book about the tyranny of the weak. Of course using the term “weak” could be construed as being quite judgmental so the alternate title might better be: the badge of victimhood. A recent occurrence online reminded me of it and got me to thinking about it once again.

I had an excellent teacher and demonstration of the tyranny of the weak in my own father, as I was growing up. Although I loved him dearly, and indeed, am like him in some ways, he was a consummate teacher of how to rule the roost by being weak. He had health issues, which conveniently came up whenever there was something he didn’t want to do. My mother, a strong personality, ended up doing most of everything, earning a living for our family, all of the housework (except limited amounts done by us kids) all the shopping, taking the car to be repaired, pretty much anything that was needed to be done in or for the family was done by her. The entire family all tip-toed as if on eggshells around him and his health/emotional issues. Not too surprisingly, his health issues did not keep him from doing the things he wanted to do, like going out to drink, hunting, or other activities.

So I grew up and married a strong personality, beloved by all who met him, he was tremendously popular and I’m sure many people wondered how I “snagged” him. Well, as you have probably guessed, it was through the magic of the tyranny of the weak! I was shy and he got great pleasure from helping me be more social, coaching and coaxing me along. I didn’t do it on purpose, but it was the perfect set-up, I ruled that roost as sort of the power behind the throne. I have done that a few times in my life, usually not on purpose, it’s sort of an instinctual position I fell back on in my younger years when intimidated by a stronger personality or by conflict between personalities. The problem is that, especially among kind, compassionate people, it usually works and the behavior gets rewarded. I’ve spent the past twenty-plus years learning to be my own strong personality and not to emotionally parasite off of other people, however kind and generous they may be (and thus tempting as easy targets, sadly).

But the gist of my wanting to write about this topic is for two main reasons:

-For the targets to learn to protect themselves from people who on purpose or just instinctually will use their weaknesses to get their own way;

-And for those who use that strategy to realize what they are doing to harm the people and relationships around them and to find more appropriate ways to relate to people.

Perhaps I should clarify exactly what behaviors I’m talking about. Any behavior that tries to make/force people to treat oneself differently because of health, emotional, situational and other issues. This would include things like “I can’t do that because ____ “(fill in the blank for physical, emotional, etc. issues), “You shouldn’t disagree with me because I’m _______ (fill in the blank with physical, emotional, situational etc. issue). “You need to make allowances for me because ___” Funny how they always have a reason why we should make allowances for them and treat them differently! They wear a “Fragile” sign and demand that other people cushion, protect and coddle them instead of being honest and expecting mutual participation and give-and-take in their relationships.

The spoken or unspoken “reason” for the person needing to get their own way is because whatever issue they have might become even worse. Examples: It will set off my _____ headaches, backaches, emotional issues, make me feel bad because ____ (I’m already suffering from ______ name the issue or situation).

A normal, compassionate person will not want to inflict (more) pain upon someone they care for, and thus will often step back and refrain from speaking their mind, do things for the other person that they could do for themselves, or other enabling behavior. The really sad thing is that these people are trying to force other people to treat them specially, different from the way “normal” or “average” people get treated. It’s looking for love from other people, but in the wrong way; looking for people to take care of them rather than being responsible for oneself, emotionally, physically and in every adult way.

One can’t force others to love them and those types of behaviors damage relationships. It’s hard not to be resentful once one learns they have been “played” by a loved one’s victimhood. And holding back from speaking one’s mind can create dishonesty and miscommunication—not conducive to healthy relationships. Maybe that’s why I can spot those behaviors so easily, I’ve done them in my earlier years and learned they create nothing but problems between people. Clean, clear and honest communication can be so difficult, but it works the best. Maybe a good title for my potential book would be: Take Off Your “Fragile” Sign!

Next time: Part 2, the fine line between actual limitations (physical, emotional, etc.) and victimhood, or is it a cry of “wolf” or a cry of “help”?

1 Comments:

Blogger Michael Manning said...

You make many good points. Overall, many people "need to have their onion peeled" with a good therapist to become better persons. Have a nice Thanksgiving!

10:47 AM  

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