Lately, I’ve started to participate on a forum for parents of children with behaviour difficulties. Reading the things the parents write shocks me, cause I realize I was, and sometimes still am, like these children. And the parents use words like “abusive”, “unlovable”, etc. to describe their children. And my parents and Sigrid have done the same! Each time I get those remakrs, I’ve become frustrated, cause I’ve realized I have problems in this area since 1998, yet I do not know how to change it. That’s also what I meant when I wrote about the being angry too easily: I’m not willingly making people’s lives miserable with my anger tantrums. But of course, that is not exactly about understanding situations – of course, at some times I will get upset/curt/etc. cause I don’t know how to act appropriately, but my getting angry easily is not a thing of not knowing how to act but a thing to do with my quickly getting frustrated. Still, however inappropriately low my frustration tolerance may be, it is not something I choose. Sigrid thinks that when I’m making toast and getting frustrated cause I burn my hands and can’t get it done, that I’m only screaming to get her attention, but she doesn’t know that I’ll get equally frustrated when I’m alone.
I know that there are children and adults who display antisocial behaviour simply cause they lack respect for others, or who are defiant just to willingly annoy others. Many of the parents on the forum have such children, but many also have children whose behaviour trouble runs deeper, such as emotional disorders. I realize that outsiders will only see a child’s or adult’s behaviour, what preceeds, and what follows. They cannot look into a child’s mind, and a child cannot always express her feelings or the reasons behind her behaviour. And if she can, who knows if she’s sincere or just being manipulative?
I’ve struggled with this a lot of times. For you know how folks have said I lack self-criticism, I’ve often wondered when this applies: is it merely blaming others for one’s own failures, which I may’ve done a lot of times when I was younger, and now still at times do when the true cause of the failure was a problem of mine that runs much deeper than behaviour (eg. not having stood up for myself)? Or is it also the explaining what got me to behave in some way in a particular situation, all of which’d be nonsense according to behaviorist viewpoints?
And if the issue is simply that you are out-of-control, as a person who gets easily frustated often is, then does that mean that you can change your behaviour at will? Does one choose to be out-of-control? Would be weird, as the phrase “out-of-control” suggests that a person cannot control his actions. Or does one choose to get frustrated, if that’s a better wording? Can one, who gets frustrated easily, even if that had no deeper cause, change this behaviour at will?
I have a great problem with terms like “abusive”, “manipulative”, etc., cause they imply that a person chooses to act the way he does. While at times I do not know how to act appropriately, or I get frustrated and can’t handle it. I’m rarely truly manipulative, or can’t one say that of oneself? Is it manipulation to say one isn’t often manipulative? Cause, after all, behaviour sometimes has a positive consequence, like folks helping me etc. Does that mean that I’m acting out to get attention? In my view, not: I get curt or angry or frustrated cause I cannot handle something, and I do not know how to appropriately communicate that. The result may be that I get the assistance I’d wanted to ask for, but when folks just ignore my behaviour, it won’t get me to communicate more effectively, will it?
Another thing is about realizing you have a problem. I realized I had problems with behaviour in 1998, but I still have my problems. Does that mean I don’t want to change? Does it mean I want to be manipualative (boy, do I hate that word!)? Does it mean I don’t show enough effort? Would I just need to be held accountable for my behaviour and then it’d suddenly disappear? Ain’t I held accountable? I wish punishment for inappropriate behaviour woud give a child or adult the skills he needs to behave appropriately.