November 9

You Are So Mean

November 9, 2011

Parenting

Stephanie called me to say that her 14-year-old daughter, Lee Ann, was out of control: angry, sexually promiscuous, having problems in school, and more. Questions revealed that Stephanie had felt unloved all her life, and she had reacted to her pain with alternating anger, controlling, and running. When Lee Ann behaved badly, Stephanie became afraid and tried to control her daughter. Intermittently, she also just gave up and walked away in frustration.

"Stephanie, my dear," I said, "Lee Ann is not the problem."

"What do you mean?"

I explained that Lee Ann was just reacting out of emptiness and fear, and that Stephanie was the primary reason for that. As I spoke, I could feel Stephanie emotionally withdrawing from me, so I said, "Stephanie, you're pulling away. You're feeling attacked."

She said she had called me for help, but she felt betrayed because I had responded to her need by being "mean" to her.

So I explained what I was doing. The laws that govern genuine happiness are just as invariable and unflinching as the laws that govern the physical universe. If you push a glass off the edge of the table, gravity ALWAYS pulls the glass to the floor, and it may shatter into pieces. You can count on the effects of gravity. It never varies, even if the consequences for you are negative. It never gives you a "break."

Similarly, if you are unloving, you will be unhappy, and almost certainly you'll have a destructive effect on the people around you. Stephanie had used a wide array of Getting and Protecting Behaviors with Lee Ann, and the results were predictable: Lee Ann felt unloved and responded with her own unproductive behaviors.

You can count on the Laws of Happiness. If You keep them, you'll be happy and empowered to bless the lives of others. If you break them, unpleasant results are also guaranteed.

As wise men, sometimes you have to explain the Laws of Happiness to people—not to be mean but to enable them to make much better choices.

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