Reality Check: They “should” know…

Alice is fuming, but you’d never know it. She’s choosing to keep her frustrations hidden, and having chosen this “internal fuming” behaviour throughout her life, she’s mastered the skill. No one would know.

We choose certain behaviours because they seem like a good idea at the time. For Alice, this internal fuming behaviour has worked well for her during past situations. When we have a behaviour that’s worked well, we have a tendency to choose it again and again.

For example, some folks have “anxiety-ing” as their go-to behaviour; others choose “resent-ing;” still others might go to “depress-ing.” Alice chooses internal fuming.

However, a go-to behaviour that’s worked well in the past isn’t necessarily the most effective behaviour for the present!

When Alice said that she’s tired out from carting her dad to and fro: doctor’s appointments, hospital visits, and a myriad of other errands, I casually asked whether she had anyone who could help her out.

“Yes, but they don’t offer. What’s worse is that I’m self-employed, so when I’m not working, I’m not earning. They could get time off from their jobs with no problem. They should know what a problem this is for me.”

Now Alice’s friends may see that she’s having difficulties, but may choose not to acknowledge that. Or they might be discussing the situation among themselves, saying “Poor Alice, I don’t know how she does it; if only we could help…”

Most likely, however, it’s never crossed their minds that Alice is having any difficulties. Alice is handling things; she hasn’t said that anything is wrong. After all, if there were a problem, she’d tell them, right?

Now, Alice can choose to be angry about that, or to frustrate about it, or to internally fume. She could even choose to feel superior, because she’s doing her duty and they’re not! The choice is up to her.

One question to consider, though, is what choice will lead to the change that she wants to see?

Each of us can only control ourselves. However, we can offer information to each other. So if you want to be sure that someone knows something, the behaviour that may be most effective could be: come right out and say it! This could be as straightforward as, “I’d like to offer some information to you that you might not be aware of…”

For example, Alice could say, “You may not have realized this, but each time I take dad on his errands, I lose pay. I don’t mind doing this some of the time, but I can’t afford to do it as much as I have been. What I would like from you is ….”

For example, Alice might like to have someone else take dad, or she might like contributions toward expenses. Or she may simply want folks to know that this is causing hardship for her.

In any case, Alice’s internal fuming of, “they should know what I’m going through” neither helps her nor her friends change the situation. With information, they may respond (or not). What do you think?  Should she offer the information?

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