Have you ever noticed how enthusiasm and affection between two people can dwindle as time goes on? Whether it's a romance, friendship, or work relationship, sometimes the air goes right out of your sails, seemingly for no reason.But usually, it's not without cause. It's most often due to the emotional cancer of resentment. However mild or intense, resentment can erode a relationship.
Because it is so subtle in the beginning, you hardly notice as it slowly destroys intimacy and trust and, finally, love.What causes the cancer to spread? It's sacrifice, doing something for someone else that you don't really want to do, which is driven by the fear of what will happen if you don't do it.In general, our culture confuses sacrifice with love, teaching us the virtue of loving others more than ourselves. So we attempt to demonstrate or prove love with sacrifice, and we get upset or feel unloved if others won't sacrifice for us.
Yet sacrifice is a wheel that crushes everyone who gets on it. It goes like this:.1. When you sacrifice (do something you don't really want to do for fear of what will happen if you don't) you have ?.
2. An unspoken expectation (e.g., they will sacrifice for you later or regard you in a particular way or love you more) that creates hidden agendas, but, you get ?.
3. Disappointed because they fail to fulfill their end of the bargain (e.g., love you the way you want them to or do what you want them to) so, you become ?.4.
Resentful, perhaps angry ("After all I've done for you!"), which leads inevitably to ?.5. Guilt (because resentment is an attack on the other and attack always boomerangs at some level), so the best way to atone for your guilt is to ?.6.
Sacrifice some more to prove what a good and loving person you really are. And 'round and 'round you go on the wheel of sacrifice.You may be wondering if we think it's ever okay to give. Of course! Real service, or authentic giving, has no strings attached and expects nothing in return later. The reward is in the experience of the giving itself.If you see you've been sacrificing, how do you get off this vicious circle? Three ways:.
1. Use forgiveness to heal your guilty thoughts and feelings (the root of your impulse to sacrifice).2. Stop sacrificing and create a new understanding in your relationships that sacrifice is toxic. Agree not to do it anymore or expect others to do it for you, which means you have the freedom to say no without losing love.3.
Make clear requests and express explicit expectations.Can you imagine what your relationships might be like if no one sacrificed but did only what they wanted to do? The people you love and who love you would be in your life because they really chose to be there, not because they felt it was expected or it was what they were "supposed" to do.Because sacrifice is so deeply ingrained in our culture, you may experience resistance as you consider what you're reading here.
But we encourage you to experiment. When we first fell in love, we decided we would not sacrifice for one another. Instead, we would tell the truth about what we did and did not want to do, and we would not use "emotional blackmail" to try to get the other to sacrifice for us. We would not withhold love when one of us said no, and we would not extend ourselves with an unspoken expectation of reward later. It has not always been easy, but it has been one of the most important decisions we've made. We credit it as one of the primary reasons we are still happily together and our love is still so vibrantly alive.
In part two of this article, you'll see how to stop sacrificing (instead, create relationships that are resentment-free zones!), and practice the fine art of being true to yourself and the partnerships you create.© 2006 Paul and Layne Cutright ? All rights reserved. You may publish this article in its entirety and with the authors' resource information intact..Layne and Paul Cutright are relationship coaches and teachers who have been offering secrets and strategies for successful relationships at home and in business since 1976.
They are authors of the best selling book, You're Never Upset for the Reason You Think ? Secrets and Strategies for Resolving Any Upset Quickly and Easily. http://www.PaulandLayne.com.
By: Paul Cutright