Create the Dignity You Deserve: By Carol the Coach

 When people enter into a partnership, there will always be issues that they will have to accept about the other person.  However, when one person blatantly disregards the feelings of his or spouse, it becomes a serious problem.  It is difficult to watch people repeatedly put up with substandard behavior from their loved ones.  Frequently there are indiscretions that contaminate the relationship. 

It is easy to blame the irresponsible “perpetrator” who is not committed to the relationship.  However, a seasoned professional knows that the “victim” holds the power card because they ultimately have the choice to stop the insanity. It is up to this person who is repeatedly disappointed to decide how much abuse or neglect one will take before the decision is made to move out of the relationship.   

I worked with a client whose spouse had been staying out late, drinking with the guys and philandering with women on a regular basis. He seemed to have a total disregard for their relationship. To make matters worse, my client complained that she was receiving one to two calls per week from strange women who wanted to talk to her husband. She found this intolerable. 

 As she told her story, you could see her anger, hurt, and disgust.  She became empowered, made statements about not putting up with this any longer, and declared her intentions to set limits and boundaries. And then within the same breath, she reverted back to her old behaviors which lacked empowerment.  It was if she stuck her head back in the sand and said, “But he swears they are only friends” or “I don’t think he would have had time to cheat with her.”  It was as if her anger had motivated her to stand up for herself and then she slipped back into that passive state where it seemed easier to tolerate the behavior than to take a stand of self-respect.   

My job was to get her to be accountable for what she was willing to put up with emotionally.  She needed to look at the pros and cons of staying in the relationship, the trade-offs and the toll it was taking on her emotional health.  

After she rationally assessed her situation, she began to look at her options. She recognized her choices and took back her power.  My client had initially come in feeling helpless because she couldn’t make her husband stop his behavior.  She knew that she needed to learn assertiveness and share her feelings even though it didn’t change him.  She learned that she needed to be more independent and stand on her own two feet, even if but it didn’t stop him from cheating.  She developed more relationships and became less dependent on him even if it didn’t alter his behavior.  As she got stronger it became inevitable that she would need to make the ultimate decision.  She eventually separated which resulted in a divorce.   

Two years later she married a wonderful man who adores her.  She still has a soft spot in her heart for her ex, but she knows that she deserved a better life for herself.  She heard from friends that her ex-husband continues to cheat despite his new marriage.  Although she feels a pang of sadness about his indiscretions, she has a strong sense of gratitude for her own decisions.  She learned that although she could not change the way he treated her, she could stand up for herself and create the dignity she deserved.

Carol the Coach: Embracing the Struggle

Has anyone ever told you to embrace what you want to change? The secret of truly attaining success is seeing the positive in your situation despite the fact that you need to create change in your life.  This can be incredibly tricky, because most people who want to change are seriously disgruntled with their current situation.  They are disgusted with themselves.   They frequently are negative about their dilemma, or they blame others for their demise. 

 Yet the key to healthy change is to accept the strength that is in your current situation.  Once you have done this, you can move closer to meeting your goals because you have developed an appreciation for being in the present moment. You may fear that if you see the strength in your current situation, you might not have the motivation to change. But in reality, it is just the opposite. When you recognize your present-day power, it gives you more energy to make change. Reaching a goal requires persistence and stamina. You need a sense of positive energy to keep the goal alive. Staying positive helps you to stay motivated.

 When I work with a client who wants to make more money, we spend time talking about how their current income has positively served them in their life.  If I meet with a couple who wants to improve their relationship, I won’t proceed until they can convince me that there are several things, they appreciate about each other in their present state.  If I see a client who wants to lose weight, I ask them to list the things they currently like about their bodies, and their weight.  When I work with a single person who wants to find a mate, I ask them to discuss the many advantages there are to being a single person. 

What I know from my work with people is that it is imperative in the development of a new mindset for them to be positive about how their current issue has served them.  All too often, the client’s negative feelings about the problem sabotages the progress that they can make in their goal development.  In other words, if a client is to be successful, they must not loathe their body, their partner, their income, or their single status.  Maintaining a positive attitude is not only a prerequisite for change, but it is necessary to keep them going when they run into “dry spells” or hit plateaus.

 What would you like to change in your life?  Most likely, you have a list of things that could use some self-improvement.  Spend about ten minutes writing them down.  It’s easy to maintain them in your head, but if you really want to change, you need to write them down.  

Apply what you have learned in today’s column by writing down what you have enjoyed or appreciated about your current dilemma.  If you are having difficulty, ask yourself what has this experience taught me and how has it served me?  When you write it down you are more likely to make it happen.

I realize that this assignment is difficult, because it doesn’t look like you’re changing anything.  Yet, what I am really asking you to do is change your attitude, which is the first step in attaining success.  Give it a shot.  Put it down as Part I in the formula for a change.  It should make you feel better about yourself and will get you closer to the person you really want to be!