Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Double Binds

D'ya ever notice how, in the Canadian political system, the "loyal opposition" is loyally opposed to everything? I realize it is their job to challenge what the party in power is doing and keep them on their toes...but this morning on the way to work, I listened to an interview about how the government is reversing it's position on some budgetary decisions. The government is being roundly criticized for changing the policy...though just a short time ago, it was criticized for ramming policies through without listening to the other parties and being sensitive to the feedback.

I suspect you can relate to being in a position where you just can't win. In fact, not only can you not win, no matter what you pick to do, you lose.

You know what I mean. A wife who says, "Be really really honest with me" but also says, (and maybe not in actual words, but in her responses says, "Never be critical of me". Or a husband who says, "Say something", but then minimizes or ridicules your efforts to speak up, or now states you're dissing him by responding. Or a parent says, "Speak up" and when the kid responds, he's told, "Not so loud". Or a kid who tells a parent to back off and give her space, but then comes home and asks for a ride to the mall, give her $20 and says she is panicking because her assignment for school is too hard and she needs help...and the parent knows that if s/he sits down to help, it's only moments before accusations of control begin to fly around.

It's crazymaking, really. To be set up to fail. Lousy.

There's no way out of a double bind...everyone loses...but the one issuing the double bind has the control. And while the control helps a person feel powerful, it's also a lonely place to be. Trust me, clients have taught me that. They may have the control, but it's a usually a strategy to compensate for the fear. The big tough guys will have trouble admitting it, but fear of vulnerability is a powerful thing.

Protecting yourself from vulnerability is lonely though...very lonely.

"And the day came when the risk it took to remain tightly closed in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to bloom"
Anais Nin

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