Monday, 11 July 2016

A Girl Called Sharon - when being 'good' is self defeating!

I believe that our emotional and behavioural dysfunction is linked to the philosophies we have constructed over time and which we practise and reinforce unconsciously. Albert Ellis and others assert that our anger, anxiety and other emotional ills are constructed ergo they can be deconstructed.

“If you are distressed by anything external, the pain is not due to the thing itself, but to your estimate of it; and this you have the power to revoke at any moment.” Marcus Aurelius
 
Marcus Aurelius
Why does Sharon feel so sad and aggrieved? Where does her own personal beliefs come from? This fictitious account of Sharon's early learning might shed some light on this.
Little Sharon was taught that she should always use her manners and that others should too. If she waved to someone who waved at her ‘that was good’, she was a ‘good girl’ to do this. Her parents said ‘good girl.’ Her parents would say how rude it was when others didn’t show the same standard of manners and that they should always be well mannered. Sometimes her dad would say how terrible it was that people weren’t as well-mannered as they should be.

At school Sharon tried very hard to be ‘good’ at all times.  Sometimes she would ask the teacher, ‘am I a good girl?’  She would try hard to get stickers and she felt bad when the teacher was angry about something.  She thought it was her fault.

When she was in high school she worked hard to be liked by others. She would buy things for her friends and offer to do things for them. If they seemed unhappy she would worry that she had done something bad. If she wasn’t included she felt very sad and thought no one liked her.

When she was an adult she found she often felt angry when people didn’t do what she thought they should do.  She would help people, buy them things and go out of her way to do for others. Instead of feeling good she felt bad.

‘Why don’t they do things for me,’ she would think. ‘Why don’t they buy things for me? Shouldn’t they treat me the same way? Perhaps I should try harder,’ and then they will like me and think I’m cool. Perhaps I’m not trying hard enough.’

Years later.

When she was driving in town one day another driver let her in and Sharon waved to her. The other driver didn’t wave back and she felt the anger rise inside her…  
  
Sharon with a friend