ANTIDOTES TO TOXIC BEHAVIOR: ONE MAN'S NOURISHMENT IS ANOTHER MAN'S POISON
By "owning" all his attitudes, behavior patterns, and reactions to others, an N person avoids being judgmental. His focus is on what he
finds fits his needs, what he experiences as nourishing or toxic. While he may clearly state what he likes or dislikes, he does not attempt
to "sell" his opinions to others by implying that they "should" be like him. The nourishing person does not tell another, "You should not
manipulate me." He may say in effect, "I feel manipulated by you." He owns how he experiences (and reacts to) the way the other relates
to him. In essence, what he says is, "If you feel that what you are doing in our relationship contributes to your well-being or nourishes you,
I respect your right to be the way you feel is best for you. However, I experience what you are doing as toxic [manipulative] to me."
The nourishing person expresses how he experiences the other person—he does not pronounce a judgment that he is right and the other is wrong.
HE: Let's stop volleying for a while. I think I can show you some pointers that will improve your game.
SHE: I don't want to stop. I'm enjoying myself. I would like to finish the set. HE: It will only take a few minutes, and I think you'll find your game
will improve quickly. For one thing, you're not holding your racket right
SHE: I don't want a lesson right now. I'm enjoying myself. Come on, let's play—I know I could be better.
HE: Why do you have to be so stubborn? Just try holding the racket the way I suggest.
SHE: You're taking all the fun out of it for me. If you're not enjoying yourself, just say so, and well stop. But I don't want a tennis lesson.
HE: God, some people are just ungrateful. I spent years perfecting my backhand and invested hundreds of dollars in lessons and I just
want to share it with you, and you won't let me.
SHE: Take all the lessons you want; I don't want any.
HE: You're too much. Maybe you ought to see a shrink about your stubbornness.
In the above dialogue, "he" has good intentions. He thinks he has something of value to offer. "She" is enjoying herself (a nourishing experience).
He refuses to accept this and persists in his attempts to "sell" her something that will be "good for her" until he frustrates (poisons) himself by
refusing to allow her to be exactly the way she wants to be at the moment. In the following dialogue, he avoids selling and being judgmental
by owning his feelings about the game.
HE: There are a couple of things about your form which I could point out to you that might improve your game quite a bit.
SHE: I appreciate the offer, but I'm having fun and enjoying myself right now. I would like to continue the set.
HE: Okay. If you're interested, you can ask me after we finish and I'll point out a couple of flaws I noticed in your form.
HE: (silently to himself) She doesn't give me a very interesting game, and she sounds like she's not interested in becoming a better player.
I think I'll look around for someone else who gives me a better game.
After the set is finished:
SHE: I really enjoyed that—it was a lot of fun. I hope you don't mind my lack of enthusiasm about improving my game.
HE: I appreciate your being honest about it.
SHE: I think I blew it. I’ll bet you never ask me to play tennis again (laughing).
HE: Not necessarily. If I want a more challenging game, I will find another partner. I really like your openness, and I have a hunch we
might find other things in this world to enjoy with each other besides tennis.