Make People Depend on You Gracian #5
- Category: Self-Help
Deciphering the meaning behind these maxims is quite a challenge. We have to remember he wrote them and they were translated before the dangers of codependency were articulated and the term was used. Gracian is NOT talking about enabling someone through infantilizing or self sacrifice - issues that come up in relationships when an eating disorder is present.
The points he brings up in his commentary are critical learning for people in eating disorder recovery. Fear of abandonment that stimulates people pleasing to the point of
dangerous self sacrifice, giving to others completely yet being told you are inadequate (and believing it), faking a confidence and competence to hide anxiety and self doubt are all part of life with an eating disorder.
Because the giving to please others or protect yourself is so ingrained as a way of functioning in the world, you don't know that it signals a developmental deficit, a "hole" in your psyche that needs to fill wtih a maturation process. It's an inconceivable thought because you believe you are giving life your all and that nothing more is possible. This is why abuse relationships and "battered wife syndrome" are so difficult to address. The people involved don't have other ways of functioning. They are behaving the only way the know, and it's a dangerous as well as tragic way. The core of it is giving all or expecting all and whatever is given is not enough. The person giving is punished and believes she deserves it.
This maxim, Make People Depend on You, is more about being authentic and reliable so people receive benefits from being around you. They know that if you say you will do something you will do it and well. But you keep to your own integrity and only offer what you are capable and willing to give. You do not sacrifice. You offer quality because you are quality. You offer it when you value the project or the person or both and you stop giving when you reach your limit. This is important. You stop at your limit, not their limit.
They may want more but you can stand on your integrity, honor your boundaries and give only what you choose. This may leave the other wanting more. That's all right. Just because someone wants something doesn't mean you have to supply it. And that someone will welcome your involvement in the future because you give value. You don't have to take more responsibility than you wish. Once others learn that you have and respect your personal limits they will respect you for it and be glad for what you do offer them.
Gracian brings up some important truths about human nature. He says "hope remembers and gratitude forgets." He reminds us that "He who has already drunk turns his back on the well."
So, in relationships, you don't satisfy every desire until there is no reason for the relationship. Gracian makes another point here. This is not a way of manipulating people. You honor the forces of ethical behavior. So you don't give people false information so that they are in a situation where they fail and need you. You don't maintain a silence that gives the impression of a communication that is false or inadequate. And you don't do something to undermine their endeavors so they endlessly come to you with their need.
You don't become the object of satisfaction for an addict. But you do create a lasting relationship built on respect when you do not give all in hopes of gratitude and reciprocity.
You give because you believe and value the person and his project. You give what you believe may assist a portion of that endeavor. You retain your self esteem, your resources and your personal boundaries.
How are you at giving less than what you can give? Can you set limits and give what you wish and no more?