Do you make demands or requests?
My son was asking for lots of different things recently. We said NO to the tortoise and the sudden desire to go on holiday to Norway. His emotional response reminded me of something important: we think that making demands will get us what we want.
Normal we don’t know if someone is making a demand or a request until we say NO. Then their tantrum, sour face, looking away or “that’s not fair” comment lets us know they were not asking but demanding.
My son’s demand made me think of how often I make demands and why. Do I really want someone to say YES when they don’t want to? Do I really want people act to please me when they would rather do something else?
Why do we make demands?
1. We think the other person’s positive response will make us happy.
2. We mistakenly think that people only truly care about us when they say YES.
3. We think the person we are asking will say YES because they value our appreciation or gratitude. We believe in relationships based on bargains – you give me something and I will make you feel good about yourself if you say YES
What choice do we have faced with the demands of others?
1. Agree to the demands of others because we don’t want to deal with an upset person.
But then we are supporting their belief, “unless I get what I want I will be unhappy”. When we give in, we are agreeing they are so vulnerable that NO would hurt them, so we say YES
2. Say YES because we think we are giving others what they want.
But are we giving them what they really want? They want to know that they are powerful, strong and invulnerable and so sometimes saying NO is the best way to remind them of that fact. Maybe people (children especially?) are secretly crying out for us to say NO to their demands.
3. I laugh when I read how love responded to demands in the Course:
In peace you needed nothing and asked for nothing. In war demanded everything and found nothing. For how could the gentleness of love respond to your demands, except by departing in peace and returning to the Father?
Text-13. III. 1:1-3 (pronoun “he” changes to “you”)
This gives us a clue as to what should be happening inside us when others demand that we make them happy. Then we are guided to say YES or NO.
What is your challenge around demands?
Mine is remaining calm and loving while I say NO.