Have you every found yourself going along with a situation you didn't feel entirely comfortable with, just to accommodate someone else's feelings or needs? There are times when we willingly choose to go out of our way for someone we care about, and we feel great doing so. But what about those times when it doesn't feel so great? Those times when it's not so much that you're willing, and more that you feel compelled, obligated, or motivated by guilt?
Depending on the circumstances, you may be left feeling slightly uneasy, extremely uncomfortable, or completely overwhelmed. If it happens repeatedly, there's a strong probability you'll wind up feeling frustrated with yourself and perhaps even resentful towards someone else.
It can be hard to tell the difference between consideration and capitulation, especially when you're dealing with family or close friends. As a starting place, if you're feeling rushed, pushed, or pressured to meet someone else's needs or to accommodate a request, stop and ask yourself the following questions:
These questions can help you tune in to what's really going on and what you're really feeling. If you find yourself feeling uncomfortable, uneasy, or having doubts – even if it's just a faint twinge in your gut – you owe it to yourself to reflect on what's really taking place. If you're feeling pushed or bullied into doing something you don't really want to do, that's a problem and it shouldn't be happening.
If someone expects or takes for granted that you ought to put their needs ahead of your own, that's likely a warning sign that there are deeper issues in the relationship. While most relationships typically have an ebb and flow in terms of the give and take involved, there's cause for concern if the needs of one party are consistently being prioritized while the needs of the other party are being minimized or dismissed.
For some people, the consideration vs. capitulation struggle shows up across several areas of their life. For others, it's confined to a particular relationship. Either way, it can be a challenging issue to address. Self-help books and online resources can be useful for working on things independently, while a trained counsellor or therapist can help you delve into the underlying issues more deeply.
With the ability to better understand and manage your own responses and behaviour, you'll be better equipped to cultivate and maintain healthy relationships that flourish while respecting appropriate boundaries.
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