Bad-luck fortune-cookie collectors
By Eldon Taylor
There are those who cling to their "right" to blame. I have a friend in South Africa who is a lie detection examiner. He has a model I like. He calls it something else, but we'll call it the "bad-luck fortune cookies" game. So, this is the story of these special cookie collectors. They go through life collecting all the cookies they can. Riding on the escalator of life, they will even jump high in the air to catch one, just so they can put it in their backpack of life experience and share it later. And share they do. Each evening, whether at home or in the pub, on the telephone or via e-mail, they tell their friends all about the cookies of the day. These sharings go like this:.
First Person: "Do you know what happened to me today? The clerk in the gas and grocery would not take my credit card because I left my purse at work with my identification in it; and she knows me. Heck, she sees me nearly every day--but she is a real grouch anyway." Second Person: "That sucks, but do you know what my boss said to me today? He informed me that I was always late from lunch and told me in no uncertain terms that I would either be on time or lose my job. He knows that the traffic is horrible at lunch, and he's always gone more than an hour. I should just tell him to stuff it!" Third Person: "Your day was nearly as bad as mine. I had a damn cop stop me for nearly nothing. Everyone in traffic was changing lanes, and just because I cut in front of him, he gave me a ticket. That's my third one this year, and my insurance costs are going to go through the roof as a result. These damn cops should be out catching criminals, not honest tax-paying citizens." First Person: "Life sucks. Is your husband still being a jerk? Oh, but you know, speaking of insurance rates, my insurance company canceled my insurance just because I was late with their payment. Then the idiot that ran into me--well that led to a fine for my not having insurance. And on top of that, they blamed me for the accident, and it wasn't my fault!".
By now you get the idea. These people gather to share their cookie stories, and that is largely what their social life is all about. If you want to have some fun, step up to the cookie keepers and point out how wonderful life is. You might even explain the blame game and cookie keeper philosophy, but make sure you have a plan for a quick retreat. Cookie keepers choose, whether or not they want to admit it, to hold tightly to the blame game. An otherwise productive and joyful life is thrown away in exchange for the "Don't you feel sorry for me?" exchanges. That is another part of the cookie keeper game. To belong to their group, you must be willing to be understanding and sympathetic. It's okay to top the cookie of another with a more unpleasant cookie of your own but not if you fail to recognize the poor, picked-on nature of the other cookie keeper.
A dear friend of mine grew up in a codependent family relationship, one of those Melody Beattie so aptly defines in her books such as Codependent No More. It's the relationship most of us know something about, for we have heard many of those conditional statements growing up. They are ones that go like this: "If you loved me, you would ___________. If you had any respect for me, you would not ___________. I did this for you, is it too much to expect _____________ from you? I think if you cared about me, you would____________." And so forth. You fill in the blanks. Beattie sets out several criteria for recognizing codependence. In her words, "Codependents are the people who consistently, and with a great deal of effort and energy, try to force things to happen:".
"We control in the name of love. We do it because we're 'only trying to help.' We do it because we know best how things should go and how people should behave. We do it because we're right and they're wrong. We control because we're afraid not to do it. We do it because we don't know what else to do. We do it to stop the pain. We control because we think we have to. We control because we don't think. We control because controlling is all we can think aboutUltimately we may control because that's the way we've always done things. Tyrannical and dominating, some rule with an iron hand. . . Others do their duty behind a costume of sweetness and niceties, secretly going about their business--other people's business."
Two of the keystone elements in all of this codependency is, according to Beattie, "Suffering people's consequences for them" and "Solving people's problems for them." In other words, there is a real quid pro quo in cookie sharing, and it too is at least somewhat based on codependent patterns.
My friend gave up her codependent behavior and threw all of her cookies away. She chose to become self-empowered and has made wonderful strides in the process. If you asked her, she would tell you life is a miracle, and she is very happy today. Still, her sister, with whom she has always been very close, has not budged. Her sister carries all the cookies she can and spends nearly every moment sharing them. Despite soft approaches at trying to turn on a light in the sister's head, my friend now finds herself in that place where many who refuse to play these games eventually arriveIt is hard to change when those you love the most are fixed in ways that steal your power. My friend has decided that the next time her sister plays the blame game, she will say something to end this behavior. You see, when you stop saving your cookies and get on with taking responsibility for everything in your life, your life improvesWhen that happens, you lose any and all desire to be a cookie keeper.
(Taken in part from Choices and Illusions).
Eldon Taylor has made a lifelong study of the human mind and has earned doctoral degrees in clinical psychology and pastoral psychology. He is the CEO of Progressive Awareness Research, an organization dedicated to researching techniques for accessing the immense powers of the mind, and is the author of the New York Times best seller, Choices and Illusions.
“It is my philosophy that we are blessed with the ability
to think. It is therefore incumbent upon all of us to do just that. To
begin we must ask the first question, “Who am I?” The answer to this
question is personal for each and every one of us, but at the same time
it calls upon us to accept the miracle that we are. Life is indeed a
miracle and so are you!
I believe that the way we give back to the Giver of this miracle is by being all that we can be, by doing our best at everything we do and by recognizing the miracle in all life. It is from this perspective that I truly wish for you the dignity, bounty and blessings that are yours by birthright as part of the miracle.”
Visit the website: www.eldontaylor.com