“No one can change you, hurt you, or disappoint you, unless you yourself ‘let’ them do so.” Amanda Adriani
In any given relationship between spouses, neighbors, parent/child, or a even a friendship where one party claims to be mistreated, wronged, or on the receiving end of bad behavior the receiving party must look at themselves and take responsibility for the part they played in causing or allowing the unwanted conduct to continue.
A wife may complain about how her husband mistreats or disrespects her and that may be true. But what part does the wife play in allowing the behavior to continue? One cannot assume that people will always do the right thing or behave in an appropriate manner. In some cases it is up to us to show the other person what our boundaries are. This is where the concept of “negative consequences” comes into play. If the wife decided to employ some type of negative consequence each time her husband disrespected her, the behavior would likely diminish. For example if the husband makes a disparaging remark to his wife and the wife reciprocated by deciding not to prepare dinner that night, something that the husband values and looks forward to, the husband would feel the sting of “negative consequences.” Sometimes employing negative consequences is the only way to change someone’s behavior.
If a child continually leaves his room in and unkempt disheveled state against the wishes of his mother what part does the mother play in the unwanted behavior? If she simply goes in and cleans up the mess, the child will likely continue the undesired behavior. If she scolds the child and tells him to clean his room he still may not change his behavior. Why? Because there is no good reason for him to change. Human beings often behave in ways that may be considered “irresponsible” or “disrespectful” simply because it’s easier to do so. It is often necessary for the other person to employ some time of “negative consequences” or punishment in order to bring about the desired behavior. If the mother decides to take something away from the child, like TV or computer time, each time she finds the child’s room messy, then she is teaching him how to behave in a manner she considers appropriate. Taking something away from a child is called “negative punishment” and it is the preferred way of disciplining children as opposed to spanking for example.
If one neighbor repeatedly allows his dog to defecate on the pavement of another neighbor complaining about it to oneself will most likely not change the situation. It is up to the “wronged party” to show the offending neighbor that the behavior is unacceptable. Remember we cannot assume that people know what our boundaries are or that people will always act responsibly or always do the right thing. So perhaps simply talking to the person and explaining that your pavement is off-limits to his dog will be enough to change the situation. It may not however and one may have to employ “negative consequences” to bring about a change. Telling him that you will contact “Animal Control” or the Police Department if the situation continues will likely bring about the desired change in behavior.
In each of these situations wife/husband, mother/child, and neighbor/neighbor one must be willing to follow through on the negative consequence and be consistent. Saying you will do something and then not doing it, is just like telling the other person that you are not to be taken seriously. That will only further promote the bad behavior.
In any relationship when one party is being mistreated one must look at themselves and ask, “What am I doing to allow, promote, or cause this inappropriate behavior?”