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Norman M.
Norman M., Principal psychotherapist in private practice. Newspaper contributor, over 2000 satisfied clients on JA
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2568
Experience:  ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), ECP, UKCP Registered.
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How do you choose where to draw the line in relation to your

This answer was rated:

How do you choose where to draw the line in relation to your responsibilities to others at your expense?

It would help me to help you if you could tell me the circumstances which prompted your question, please

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

As an example, I had to go to a large family party (my spouses family) where I knew absolutely no one other than my spouse and her parents.


I went but I would have preferred not to, both because I didn't know anyone and I REALLY don't like large crowds. My compromise was

to set a period of time that I would attend and basically grit my teeth and bear it. The other thing is that it doesn't seem fair to my spouse either

as it's apparent from my demeanor that I'm not happy to be there.

Thanks for that. Your spouse knows that you don´t like large crowds, and probably was happy with the compromise.

I wonder if you have being assertive in the sense of looking after yourself.

I´d like you to use this tool.

This Bill of Rights was one of the tools used by Virginia Satir, a well-known family therapist. Containing some really basic psychological rights belonging to every person, it really helps to identify and deal with areas in which we have problems.

Read the statements. Note down any immediate thoughts or feelings that come to you and analyse them later.

Look at yourself in a mirror and read it out loud to yourself. Listen to your voice grow in strength and volume so that you can really start to feel it inside. In the beginning, you may feel silly or embarrassed. You may hear the inner voice say, "That's not the truth". Just hang in there and keep doing it - you'll notice the change within six weeks, if you do it regularly.

1. I do not have to feel guilty just because someone else does not like what I

do, say, think or feel.

2. It is OK for me to feel angry and to express it in responsible ways.

3. I do not have to assume full responsibility for making decisions, particularly where others share responsibility for making the decisions.

4. I have the right to say "I don't understand" without feeling stupid or guilty.

5. I have the right to say NO.

6. I have the right to say No without feeling guilty.

7. I do not have to apologize or give reasons when I say NO.

8. I have the right to refuse requests which others make of me.

9. I have the right to tell others when I think they are manipulating, conning, or treating me unfairly.

10. I have the right to refuse additional responsibilities without feeling guilty.

11. I have a right to tell others when their behaviour annoys me.

12. I do not have to compromise my personal integrity.

13. I have a right to make mistakes and be responsible for them. I have a right to be wrong.

14. I do not have to be liked, admired, or respected by everyone for everything I do.

Looking after your own comfort in difficult situations is not selfish. It´s just plain common sense, and helps you to feel good about yourself!

Please try it out!

I should have added that when 'drawing a line', that point happens when you feel that the other(s) in a social or other transaction are not honoring their side of the bargain, that they are manipulating you, or taking advantage of your good nature.

What is important here is what YOU feel about the situation, not what other people say or might think!

Be careful too, when someone asks "Can you do me a favor?" Always check first what is being asked of you, and if it goes beyond what you can do or are prepared to do, don´t commit to it, or commit to it within limits which you explain to the other party. This simple approach avoids un-necessary expectations or disappointments on either side.

If you do let people manipulate you or use you beyond what YOU feel is reasonable, bitterness, hurt and anger creep into the relationship.
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

So while the above is in factual event it is also a analogy for my life.

I am prone to depression which of course makes my like far more complicated than it would be otherwise. To a great extent it like a low level toxin in my life, it debilitates me so broadly that not only does it affect my ability to perform at work but even more for myself.



Make no mistake that I have a natural sense of self preservation however that is balanced against a quality of life question where

the intellectual question is that based on the circumstances of my

life do I choose to continue? I believe that I SHOULD own the choice

as to whether I live or not just as I believe that physically sick people should be able to make the choice as to whether to live or not based on a quality of life.


This is where my question is coming from, a quality of life perspective.

To live in a state of continuous fear and bitterness poisoning the lives

of those around you who love you and expecting them to assume

financial responsibility for you is something that I see as intolerable.


On the other hand how do you tell the people who love you that "on the whole" I'd rather be dead and have them accept it as a valid choice.


I am totally in tune with the material that you sent me in your reply but

I am literally one unemployment away from wanting to end my life. The problem is that there is so little "up side" to my life and at my current

age I can naturally expect things to generally trend for the worse rather

than the better.


This internal rift itself is such a burden to me, it's a lose lose situation.


I believe that I have the right to chose what is intolerable to me as a

quality of life decision. I choose not to abuse drugs, or alcohol etc, etc

because that choice is offensive to me in terms of it being against my

best interests and the terrible burden it exerts on those around you.

I would chose to be dead rather than do that, I would rather be dead than treat those around me immorally or illegally. Many people DON'T

and wouldn't make that choice and that is their choice to make.


My problem is how do you get people to accept an if, then quality of life



While it's not a great movie if you've ever seen Soylent Green it rather

explains where I'm coming from. The old man has seen enough of life

and has the choice to simply pass on. That is what I want if required.


Can you tell me, before I comment further, what treatment you have had for your depression?
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I've had both talk therapy and am on medications which have helped significantly.

Let me say first of all, that whatever the reason you were put on this Earth it was not only to please others at the expense of yourself.

Secondly, if you live in a state of fear and bitterness about the consequences of your own actions, then that fear and bitterness is self imposed, simply because right down at the root of things, YOU have responsibility for your own actions. You can choose to do what might poison the lives of people who love you by your actions or you can choose to enrich them. You can enrich their lives by, thanking them for their love and their help, where that is appropriate. You can choose to enrich them by electing to stay around for them.

Personally, I’m not interested in the moral debate about the rights and wrongs of suicide, and let’s face it, that is what we are talking about here.

Of course you have that choice, and it cannot be taken away from you.

Getting people who love you to accept suicide as a valid choice is a contradiction in terms. The love you, therefore they cannot accept that you should kill yourself. There is of course the argument put forward that the reason they cannot accept your proposition is that they do not love you enough, and as a purely philosophical arguments, it has its merits. However, in the real world, where people act like people, in simply does not hold water.

You may well get them to accept your thinking if you were to tell them that "Life is so bad just now that I wish that I did not have to deal with it" and I think that is in fact what you have been telling me.

You are 55, and you expect things to go downhill. I’m 67. Some things WILL go downhill probably. Your sight. Your hearing. Your mobility. The other side of the coin is that others will continue to get better. Your understanding of yourself and others. Your tolerance level (if you let it). Your need to rush or to be number one.

All changes which make life better rather than worse.

I rather suspect that your friends would say that their lives would be impoverished by your absence. Up until know, you have struggled hard, I think, to deal with moral choices which are very important to you. IMHO you have done so very well, and I hope you have the courage to continue to do so.

Insofar as your therapy is concerned, I’d like you to be sure that the right approach for you (which I believe is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) is being used, and I also commend to you Richard Carlson’s book "Stop Thinking and Star Living". You may thing that some of what he says is verging on the trite and simplistic, but it remains a very good book indeed.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

I realize that this has gone on to quite an extent and as consequence I will provide you a bonus in an effort to compensate you for your time.

Today is just another one of my typical days when I have unintentionally

put myself in jeopardy of being fired from my job, the reason, accidentally accumulating two hours of overtime.



To offer me a bonus is extremely gracious. I do hope thin gs get resolced at work. Please remember, you still have a lot to give to this life, and alot to receive as well. Working with your medication, and Dr Carlson's book, you CAN make it
Would you please rate my answer, so that I may be compensated? Thanks.
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