Or if it’s not, then it should be.
At least that’s how it feels when I’m having a bad day. I wouldn’t ever phrase it that way, but that’s pretty much how I would be feeling. Pay attention to me. Listen to me. Understand me. Agree with me. Do it my way. Say something nice to me. Give me something that I want. Value me as I am. Leave me alone!
Of course, I would never put it that way. I would focus more on what you should be doing differently: be more considerate, be more responsible, be more logical, be more supportive, be more generous, be less critical. I may be just as likely to say it more critically: don’t be so inconsiderate, don’t be so irresponsible, and so on.
I can’t see this shadow IAAM belief unless I step outside of the thoughts and emotions swirling in my head. Usually those IAAM feelings overtake all other thoughts and logic and don’t allow room for anything else, including the possibility that I’m behaving from IAAM mode.
Realizing I’m functioning in IAAM mode gives me some space to understand my role in the dynamic. On the other hand, I don’t want to always operate from an IAAY (it’s all about you) mode, either. First, I’m not a saint (ya think?). Second, I still believe in setting boundaries with others to influence how I’m treated.
In other words, understanding my IAAM mode allows me to find the right balance of IAAM and IAAY so that I can draw boundaries that are fair but also loving to and realistic for others. For example, I may draw an initial boundary to say that Thou shalt call me if thou is going to be more than 5 minutes late, and enforce that rule religiously. That seems like a reasonable boundary, right? But creating and enforcing that rule without taking into account my partner’s reality makes it IAAM if, for instance, her job sometimes requires her to be with clients at unexpected times for uncontrollable durations. Now, I’m just creating a situation that makes it almost impossible for her to comply with and so sets her up for failure.
The other extreme is becoming a doormat for someone who seems to always be in crisis and IAAM mode. Please avoid the tendency to count the ways that someone else has been mistreating you. That calculation seems to support only one possible outcome. Instead of judging her, I might try to find ways to be supportive of her transitioning to a more balanced IAAM/IAAY, or limit the time and energy I invest into the relationship to only what I’m happy to give unconditionally.
Just like most things in life, there are no hard or fast rules. But at least understanding my IAAM tendencies gives me a fighting chance at being fair, compassionate, and setting reasonable boundaries so that I can take care of myself in the process. After all, that’s what it’s all about :).