Some time ago a Real Love group told me that one of their number, Selena, was causing a great deal of contention by making demands of the group members. She didn’t ask for their time. She demanded it. And she peddled her business services to group members at every opportunity. The group repeatedly asked her not to do this—because it detracted from the unconditionally loving purposes of the group—but she disregarded them. She always had an excuse for violating the group’s guidelines, and she always felt victimized by what someone had said. Always a drama, always someone hurting her.
I know the group members. To be sure, on occasion some of them became irritated at Selena’s relentless pressure, and they recognized that on those occasions they were not being ideally loving. I assured them that I understood they were doing their best. Over and over they tried to communicate with Selena in loving ways, but when that proved ineffective, they felt overwhelmed and became angry. Not loving but also understandable.
Selena began to email the entire group, attacking the people who weren’t behaving exactly as she prescribed. She even threatened the group organizer with a lawsuit, because she claimed to have been emotionally injured by her.
How do you respond to such a flaming, over-the-top victim? It is so easy to justify fighting such people, to defend ourselves, and to point out how they’re wrong, even hateful. But victims do not listen when we are defensive or even when we lovingly try to teach them. What to do then?
I received a letter once from a Real Love coach who had been confronted by a group member almost exactly like Selena. She said this:
“My son Tommy started playing baseball when he was five years old. He was very good, so eventually he joined a traveling team, an elite group of kids who traveled around the country playing the best teams of the same age group. He played with them until he was in his late teens.
“Each year we would lose a kid or two, and they would be replaced. Sometimes the new parents were whiners—always wanting this or that for themselves or their son—and if they didn’t get their way, they would share their complaints with the other parents, trying to enroll them on their side of the conflict. But they soon discovered that the other parents weren’t interested in engaging in their petty squabbles.
"Long ago we team parents decided that the best course of action was to let the coaches do their jobs and for us to never interfere or complain. Simply by our not engaging with the whining parents, they left the team. It happened naturally. We just refused to join in their complaints.”
Just because someone invites us to a fight or a victimhood festival does not mean we have to attend, no matter how insistent or appealing the invitation. If we don’t reward them with the pity, sympathy, indignance, self-righteousness, and support they’re demanding, eventually they become tired of their efforts and go away. We can still care about their happiness, but we don’t have to engage in their insane behaviors. Our refusal, in fact, is actually loving.
Learn how to care about their happiness without engaging in their insane behavior.
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