Persistence is a good thing - most of the time. At other times, Persistence can cross that thin line separating it from desperate clinginess.
This desperate clinginess often occurs in our relationships when we know - absolutely - what is best for the other person and they just don't seem to get it. We are committed to the relationship (even though we may not like what the other person is doing) so we persist in our efforts to change them, whether they want to be changed or not.
If you've ever read any of my columns before, you'll have a good idea where this is going.
One of the seven deadly habits in relationships - the deadliest of habits - is attempting to control others. We do this in many ways: blaming, complaining, criticizing, nagging, threatening, punishing (in various and inventive ways) and bribing (rewarding to control).
Whenever we engage in these behaviors, we are destroying our relationship, slowly and surely. There is an old saying that the mills of the gods grind slowly but they grind exceedingly fine. This is an appropriate saying to apply to these behaviors. Inevitably, these habits will grind our relationships to dust.
This is wormwood to those who are watching their loved ones destroy themselves.
Unfortunately, all the blaming, complaining and nagging, ostensibly done out of love, only serves to push the other person further away from us. Sometimes, we have to let go. We have to stop the behaviors we have spent most of our lives learning (external controlling behaviors) and allow the other person to fully experience the consequences of their actions. One of these consequences may be the loss of our relationship.
This shouldn't be done as a punishment. That would just be manipulation and only serve to further damage the relationship. But it is often the only choice that is not an attempt to control the other person. We may have been enabling the other person by our continued dedication to the relationship. Why should I change what I'm doing if you will always be there for me as a safety net. Why should I learn to protect myself when you are always there to protect me?
Letting the people we love experience the hurtful and painful consequences of their actions is sometimes the only way to help them. Sometimes that means that what is lost is their relationship with us.
All of our behavior is designed to alter our perception of the world around us to conform to the internal pictures we have about how the way things should be. When we try to protect others from the consequences of their actions, we are, in effect, skewing their view of how things really work. Of course, many are clever enough to focus their behavior on trying to control us so we continue to act as a safety net for them. Ever had the puppy dog eyes and crocodile tears treatment used on you? Ever been used by someone about whom you care and discarded after you have served your purpose?
At some point, we stop becoming supportive and just become chumps.
The seven caring habits - supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting, negotiating differences - build healthy relationships, just like the seven deadly habits destroy them. If you are not using the caring habits then you might want to consider beginning to use them. If you are in a relationship where you are the only one using the seven caring habits then you may want to consider what this really means. Maybe you've moved from being persistent to being desperately clingy, from being supportive in a healthy relationship to becoming an enabler of a dysfunctional relationship
Remember that this is not an accounting problem, i.e., caring habits don't balance out deadly habits. Eliminate the deadly habits and inculcate the caring habits. You want to be totally onesided in this equation.
If you want more information about choice theory psychology and to discuss how you may apply it in your relationships, see the people at Knoxville Center for Clinical Hypnosis. They are Reality Therapy Certified and will be glad to discuss choice theory with you. They have a new satellite office in Powell at 1719 Depot Rd, 37849, in Nature's Fountain wellness center.
They also do hypnosis for stress management. If you're in a clingy relationship then you can most definitely use some stress management.
Experiment with life. Nurture those you love.