A wolf in ship's clothing.
I’m going to tell you about an imaginary scenario between two people. For many this is a reality and for others it is an allusion to something else.
There are two people, they care about each other very much. You could even go so far as to call it love. They form a connection and grow to care about what the other thinks of them. Trust is formed and they come to believe that they only want the best for each other. It’s through this that the problem starts. One of them decides to do something different, they decide to change something that doesn't include the other.
I’ll use an example of someone trying to lose weight and to get a better body. They are with someone else, it could be a friend, or lover, and they have grown accustomed to one another as they are. They both realize that this change is good and healthy and beneficial and worth it. That is until it starts. The time and attentions spent on one – is now spent at the gym. Their usual dinners out are replaced by new places to eat, sometimes they don’t even go at all or have to go alone. Instead of talking about what they used to the other starts to talk about something new.
They start to get excited when they see results. They are able to buy new clothes – they have to buy new clothes. Their mood starts to change – but for the better. They are happier. They don’t complain – they don’t dwell in the negativity. Where as they used to wish for change and to lose weight and to look and feel better about themselves and then feel bad for not actually doing it – they are doing it.
Their outlook changes, they get new and better goals and aspirations. They start to dream of a future where they can go on vacations and long hard hikes with their shirts off and not be ashamed. To go from being shy and reclusive for how they look to feeling confident and proud. It’s great.
The other has the choice to join in the change – the invitation is open, and even encouraged.
"Do this with me! It will be fun, it will be worth it, but it will also be hard and you will have to sacrifice what you were planning on for this chance."
If they choose to do it together it can be a life changing experience for them both. If one chooses not to is where the problems start. As the one person changes for the better the other person starts to change for the worse. They become jealous, they become bitter, and they become insecure. When they start to realize that this change is not only possible - but happening is when reality sets in. What happens if this actually happens? What does that mean to me? What about me? If they succeed and I don't - will they leave me? Will they be better than me?
It’s not what or who they signed up for. Their relationship was with the other person, who they were – even if they were worse! What happens now? What if they lose all this weight and find someone else? What if I don’t want to go with them to the gym or eat what they eat? We will grow apart and I will lose them! This cannot be!
Even though this person realizes that what is happening is better for them, they still won’t always like it. They will subconsciously (and sometimes consciously) try to sabotage their efforts. “You don’t need to go to the gym today, you are doing so well.” Or “here taste this!” or even worse are the digs that don’t undermine the present, but their future. They will say and allude to things as if what the other is working towards will not, ever, actually happen. That they won’t actually reach these goals.
“I’m going to lose 10lbs by the end of the month!” and then the other, rolls their eyes, and says “ok, sure, good luck!” Sarcastically. Or they make plans to go out to eat at a buffet or plan a vacation that will interfere with the others plans. They may not even do this on purpose but by not taking the other person seriously they undermine their efforts. Why does this affect the changer? Because they care and they take stock in what the other person thinks, not because they are smarter or because they know something that the other does but because that’s how relationships work. That's how relationships hold people back. That's how other people who seemed to be good for you, become bad for you.
This is where resentment comes from. This is where the anger originates.
Lets say they give up, and they go back to their old ways. They let the other nay-sayer be right. "I told you so" They give up on their dreams, or at least put them aside and they do this, mostly, because of the other person. Not because they asked them to quit, or because they made them or even gave them an ultimatum. They could have even been “encouraging” but there was always doubt, and there was always a sense of jealousy and of fear – not of their friend failing but of them being successful. They will act like they won’t succeed because they don’t believe it’s possible for them – not because it’s impossible, but because they don’t think it’s possible for personal reasons which have nothing to do with the other person.
When someone says you can't do something what they are really saying is that they can't do something.