Colorado Life Coach: Is Your Baseline Faulty?
What if you don’t see things accurately?
What if you thought you knew the truth about yourself, but you discover your view may not be correct?
What if your baseline is faulty?
How could this happen?
When you live with people who exhibit unhealthy behavior, and don’t have examples of what healthy behavior is, you don’t know any different.
*Your dad has an awful temper and embarrasses you in public. He berates waitresses and causes scenes in movie theaters. You are nowhere near as rude, but you tend to be short-tempered and irritable.
*Your mom criticized how you looked, your clothing, your weight, your walk, everything. You felt demeaned most of the time. You “make suggestions” to your teenage daughter, and she seems resentful.
*You were not allowed to disagree with your parents, or you’d be whipped and then ignored. Your children seem to go along with most of the things you want them to do. If they don’t you “try to change their minds,” or let them know how much it means to you.
*Your step-mom was a falling-down drunk. You swore you’d never be anything like her. You don’t even touch the stuff. You just tend to eat when you don’t want to feel. Your weight doesn’t affect anyone else, right?
*The women in your family stayed to themselves. You felt ignored and unimportant. You don’t ignore your kids, but you don’t engage much. It’s easier to keep believing you don’t need anyone than to risk that feeling again.
How is it that we can see it in them, but not ourselves? Our baseline is faulty.
We haven’t seen healthy character modeled, so we think anything better than what we experienced is OK. It’s not.
_________________________ Behavior we saw modeled
_________________________ Our behavior
_________________________ Healthy behavior
When our behavior is better than what was modeled, we think we’re doing great, until we understand that it is still not healthy.
People who behave poorly without realizing it, usually do it out of a fear of abandonment:
“If I don’t make this happen, they won’t want to be around me and I’ll be alone.”
“No one would invite me, so I’ll just arrive unannounced.”
“She didn’t really mean ‘no.’ I’ll convince her she really does want to do this.”
“If I give them a choice, they’ll choose to be away from me.”
Our baseline is faulty.
What do we do about this?
1. Have compassion on yourself. You didn’t know what you didn’t know. It can be very painful to realize that you impact people in the same way the people who hurt you most impacted you. It is what it is. Acknowledge it, but don’t beat yourself up. Determine to change.
2. Pay attention. How do healthy people act? Watch people. Watch how respectful people treat others. Observe life. Watch other people as they interact with you. Are they careful around you? Do they shut down? Do they agree with you to avoid being hurt? Are they respectful of you because you’ve earned their trust? Just pay attention.
3. Decide to change. Pray. Ask God to be gentle with you unlike how others have treated you. Ask him to help you treat others with respect and dignity. Ask him to gently nudge you when your behavior isn’t healthy. Give people the dignity of having their own opinion.
4. Enlist help and support. When you are absolutely humble and sure you want to change, ask someone who knows you well and will be honest with you to point out when your behavior doesn’t match what you’d like it to be. Ask them to be gentle, but firm. And here’s the hard part: Listen to them and thank them. Don’t defend. Really listen. If you want to change, you have to listen to the people who see what you’re missing.
Your baseline may be faulty, but it’s movable! You can learn healthy behavior. You’re not a victim of your upbringing. You can change. It truly is good news!
If you’d like help overcoming a faulty baseline, check out the Broken and Brilliant Relationship Groups!
This post written by Colorado Life Coach, Carrie O’Toole.