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123. Who Do You Need To Convince?

Trying to convince someone who just isn't going to be convinced can be tiring at the very least. Why do we persist and is there another way? Don't forget, if you or your friends would like to view past tips, you can do so by clicking here. And if you'd like to forward these tips to a colleague or friend just click below.I remember the first time I saw Tim Henman's father in the audience at Wimbledon. My God, I thought, he looks hard to please. And I wondered if that was at least in part why Tim Henman had achieved so much, because he was always trying to please his father and his father just couldn't be pleased. This is pure conjecture, of course, it may well be that Mr Henman's face has an unfortunate resting position and that he is actually the soul of easy-going amicability. Maybe just a cheeky smile from little Tim was enough to warm his day. Notwithstanding it set me off on a train of thought about the correlation between career success and hard to please parents. Say you have a rather stern father who has been very successful himself and who values everyone on the basis of how well they do in life. When you come home from school and tell him you got 90 per cent in your maths test, he says, what happened to the other ten per cent? When you get chosen to play for the rugby/netball team he wants to know why you're not the captain. When you get into a good university he's disappointed, he wanted you to go to Oxford. But he is very supportive in your endeavours, because he wants you to do well; and, every now and then, you hit the jackpot. Perhaps you come top in Science, you finally do get chosen to be captain, or you do get into Oxford. And he is pleased. He is pleased! Your tender heart bursts with delight. You luxuriate in his approval. This is the moment you've been waiting for, that you've been working towards. There is nothing quite like it. And you vow to keep working and working and working so that, once again, you can get that approval. We all feel the need to prove things to others. We want to show people how good we are, nice we are, strong we are, competent we are. We sometimes want to prove to someone how bad they are, how much they are hurting us, how unreasonably they are behaving. Take Muriel and Ken, whose marriage is over. Muriel loves her husband but the marriage wasn't working in some important areas and Ken wasn't willing to work on it. She wants to part but remain friends. He is very hurt, however. He moves away and sets up home on his own; he won't speak to her, meet with her, respond to her texts. He tells her that it's best for him if they don't see each other. She is hurt and remonstrates. He doesn't respond, he's already said his piece. She remonstrates again and tells him how hurt she feels. How could he be so unkind? She does this again and again, in many different ways, but she is never happy because she never manages to elicit the response she wants, which is for him to care more about her. The problem in all these examples is in needing someone else to validate us and our feelings. The wife needs her husband to understand her hurt and not getting that leaves her feeling even more desolate. The child (and adult) needs the father to value him or her, if it's not forthcoming they too are left desolate. There is a hole, a discomfort, that just can't be resolved. This is what Melodie Beatty, the author of a number of books on co-dependency, says about these kinds of situations. 'Trying excessively to make a point with another may mean that we have not yet made that point with ourselves.' This is a quote, in my opinion, that is worth writing on numerous post-it notes and sticking in every conceivable spot. We're all co-dependent to a degree, we look to others for our sense of worth. But sometimes this can become painful and obsessive. When that happens you know you are in a co-dependent maze. The way out of the maze, as Melodie Beatty says, is for us to see that the person that needs to get the message is us, not them. It is the wife who needs to realise that her ex-husband's behaviour is hurting her, not him. He's busy looking after his own hurt. It is the adult child, once they grow up, who needs to learn to see their own value, and not just from what they achieve. The father doesn't know how to value their child for who they are, because nobody ever valued him. Once the wife sees for herself how much her ex is hurting her things start to change. She realises that her husband has always withdrawn from conflict and that is one of the things she has found so difficult about him. She realises too that he wasn't ever very good at understanding how she felt, so why on earth did she think he was going to start now? Time to start understanding herself. The now-adult child realises that they have actually achieved more in their life than pretty well anyone they know. They also realise how hard it has been, trying to get approval all this time. They begin to notice, too, that the things they value about the people in their life have almost nothing to do with their achievements. Time to start valuing himself. Try this: Think of a time when you've tried and tried to get through to someone, or to elicit a certain response from them, but it never worked. Nevertheless you just couldn't stop yourself from trying. What did you want that person to know, and what were you hoping to get from their knowing? What if you had explained that thing to yourself at the time, instead of insisting on explaining it to them? Have a great weekend. Love Anita