Nobody leaves perfection.
“I was the perfect wife, I hold our family together, I was a wonderful mother, and a wonderful wife. I always supported him and took care of our happy home. We were a very happy family – I don’t know what happened?”
I first heard this during my psychotherapy courses. This was the first case that we analyzed.
My professor gently explained to the client that things don’t change overnight and that something was missing from the story.
“We humans generally have a desire for happiness – no one just leaves a ‘happy’ home. Something is missing”.
Twenty years later, I hear the same story all the time. From my friends, from their friends, from TV, magazines, and self-help books. This story is like Boomerang on Instagram – it keeps repeating itself.
Just like my professor, I also try to comfort women and men alike – gently and with compassion. But time goes by, and they come back with the same story … about their next husband, friend, or boss.
“I was such a good, loyal employee. I worked hard and did what I was told. I felt like I was part of a family. That’s why I don’t understand how they could do this to me. How could they fire me?”
The story is the same. The problem is the same. The victim is the same. Only the predator is different.
So how are we supposed to solve this problem and stop playing boomerang so that we finally do something different?
I found some insight during my training sessions in coaching. I watched my trainer’s reaction to one of those “poor me, how could he” stories.
“Stop crying. Stop complaining. Stop being a victim. Open your eyes and stop being an ignorant.
NO ONE fires a great employee.
No one ever gives up on something that makes them happy or someone who they’re happy with.
I can’t change your bad situation, but you also can’t change it. That’s why there’s no such thing as a BAD situation. There’s only your BAD attitude and your overwhelming obsession with yourself.
Stop talking about yourself as if you were an object. You’re not a stone that someone can move around or leave behind. You are a living human being. No one can do anything to you unless you allow it yourself.”
I, who had been trained to always be a compassionate and sensitive psychologist, was shocked.
My professor was always nice, and my therapist was always pleasant to me. That’s why I was expecting carnage after such a nasty reaction to this client’s problem.
I waited for tears and began looking around for extra tissues – I definitely would’ve cried if someone had talked to me like that.
Instead of more tears, there was a surprise.
All the tears suddenly dried up, the client sat straight up, looked forward with a little more confidence, and said:
“Yes. I’m not an object. You’re right.”
To be fair, I have to add that this was a very experienced coach who knew perfectly well what he was doing and how much his client could bear. That’s why I don’t recommend being so honest with anyone who has a broken heart – not everyone is ready, and you’re not a professional.
But a lesson from this story:
BEING THE VICTIM WON’T CHANGE THE SITUATION.
We aren’t helping if we let someone become the victim. If you’re a friend, help this person open their eyes. Don’t let them live in some terrible fairy tale.
There are three main reasons why we sometimes prefer to stay in this terrible fairy tale without any contact with reality.
When something crazy happens to you, the easiest thing to say is whoever did this must be crazy! It’s their fault, not yours.
The first rule of AA (and all similar organizations): Recognize that you have a problem and admit that this problem exists.
So, no matter what happens to you:
Recognize your responsibility.
The blame is NEVER on just one side. NEVER.
It doesn’t have to be 50/50.
It may be 80/20 or 90/10 – but responsibility ALWAYS lies on both sides because every interaction requires at least two people. Two sides must accept responsibility. Two people bring behaviors, emotions, attitudes, solutions, and consequences to any situation. Every situation is a mix of what two people have to offer.
Taking responsibility for what’s happening or for what happened is part of the solution.
YOU ARE NOT the perfect wife, employee, leader, friend, daughter just because YOU say you are.
Not because there’s no such thing as perfection, but because two sides must agree on the definition of perfection.
There is no such thing as perfection, but there is perfection for me.
If you want to say that you’re perfect, you need to know the other person’s definition of perfection. Compare this definition with who you are and who you can be. Only then can you decide whether or not you are perfect.
If your definition of the perfect wife involves staying at home, preparing dinner, driving your children around, and drinking a glass of wine and chatting about everyday problems while watching TV – great! There’s nothing wrong with that.
The only thing now is… finding a man who also wants this. One whose definition of the perfect wife is the same as yours. Otherwise – you’re not the perfect wife. Not for him.
So, no matter how long you keep repeating this to yourself, your friends, and him – it won’t make you the perfect wife. Because you have a different definition of perfection. It’s no one’s fault if the both of you have never checked your definitions with each other. But you also can’t count on the other person simply changing one day.
If your definition of the perfect employee involves doing what you’ve been told, being on time, and respecting your boss, then you need to find an organization and a boss who have the same definition.
At IZMAŁKOWA, the perfect employee is a person who has their own opinion, likes independence, has initiative, and wants to discuss, not just do, what they’ve been told. Yes, we have certain rules, but one of them is this: If you don’t like something, tell us and convince us why we should change it.
For us, this definition of a perfect employee as someone who does exactly what they’ve been told would be a catastrophe.
Before you get involved in any relationship (work, friendship, marriage), make sure that you’ve checked your key values and definitions. Make sure that what you want to offer is what the other person wants – and that what you are offered in return will make you happy.
“We had a happy marriage, and he suddenly told me that he wasn’t happy.” If someone SUDDENLY becomes unhappy, it’s either because they have a serious personality disorder (which is unlikely) or you just haven’t noticed or heard their dissatisfaction.
Did he tell you, but you weren’t open enough to listen to him?
Did he tell you, but what you heard wasn’t in your own best interest?
Does your boss tell you exactly what they want, but you only remember that your former boss was happy? Then you aren’t really listening.
Are you aware of the conditions for getting promoted? Have you asked how your work will be evaluated?
We often live a lie.
We live in a reality that doesn’t exist anywhere except in our mind.
Replace your assumptions with curiosity. Swap your sense of comfort with a reality check.
Ask questions so that you’re aware of the definitions, reactions, and goals of the people you’re building relationships with.
Ask questions and be prepared for the answers.
Many people will consider this text to be mean.
I understand – I also considered this lesson to be mean and pointless when I first heard it from my coach.
It took me a long time to embrace and learn this. And to not be angry at him for treating me badly. Not days, not weekends, but years.
So if you don’t agree with me now – OK. I’ll wait.
If you want to change something in your life and gain self-respect, you must apply these three aforementioned conditions.
Because no one leaves a happy home behind.
No one fires a great employee.
No one breaks off a fantastic friendship.
No one leaves paradise unless they’re forced to do so!
We were all born to be happy and to surround ourselves with happy relationships.
We simply have different definitions of what happiness is for other people and what happiness is for ourselves.
So find the definition. Be attentive. Be aware of what’s going on, and you won’t run into any surprises.
There is reaction and a consequence. And feeling guilty won’t do you any good here.