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Dutchess_III's avatar

What do you think of this philosophy?

Asked by Dutchess_III (45318points) October 4th, 2019
50 responses
“Great Question” (1points)

I have a sister who I now realized has battled with depression and self esteem issues all of her life. She’s gone through counseling and has been a counselor herself.

She is extremely self centered. One of her philosophies is that she needs to make herself happy first. Everyone else comes 2nd (no, she’s never had children.)

Another philosophy is that she doesn’t worry about what she says to others, or how she says it, will affect them because there is no way to know how they’re going to react, and they are responsible for their own reactions.

Recently we touched on this. When that subject came up I said I try to think of how this might affect a person, based on what I know about them. I really don’t want to hurt someone’s feelings if I can help it. Sometimes I decide not to say anything at all.

She disagreed with me. She said I am not responsible for how others feel. Well, I say that when they’re dealing directly with me, I do indeed have some responsibility for them. (And whatever you do, do NOT disagree with HER. She is very quick to get defensive and escalates from 0 to 90 in literally seconds. It’s like walking on egg shells when you’re around her. There is no telling how she’ll react or to what.)

On the flip side, if you don’t admire her art work she gets extremely defensive, angry because I don’t understand where she’s coming from.

I think she deveoloped all of these ideas through the counseling she has received and I think someone missed the mark somehow. This world is not about ME and ME ALONE.

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seawulf575's avatar

I tend to agree with your sister. You cannot be responsible for how others will receive you or what their reactions might be to something you say. If you spend all your efforts trying to not offend anyone, you will waste a whole lot of effort and angst and still lose that battle. People these days get “offended” and blame the person that “offended” them. If someone says something I don’t like or if they insult me, I don’t take it personally. Their opinion of me does not dictate who I am.
Your sister seems to understand this. The downside of this philosophy is that you can be seen as a prick, if that is how you are coming across. But realistically, if you try to make everyone happy, you could come across as a syncophant or a spineless wimp. How others perceive you is not what should direct your thoughts or actions.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

Your sister is right,IMO.

rebbel's avatar

Yep, I agree.
She’s right.

stanleybmanly's avatar

I think hers is a superb coping strategy if no others ( children, husband , boyfriends) are emotionally vested in her. On the back side, she has no business eliciting opinions on her capabilities if despite her shell, her feelings remain vulnerable.

Dutchess_III's avatar

In spite of the fact that WE have to take very great pains not to say anything that offends HER, or she’ll go into meltdown and it will be your fault.

That’s the flip side of it.

canidmajor's avatar

I agree with your sister.
I think your last paragraph does her a great disservice by saying that she is not responsible for her own thoughts and philosophy.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I am not talking about nameless faces on Facebook. I’m talking about people we care about. My DIL, for example. She also suffers from depression and you just have to be very, very careful what you say around her. I’m willing to do that within the best of my ability, to try and not offend her. I don’t want to make her upset or unhappy if I can help it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

She doesn’t hold herself to that same standard @canidmajor. She is not responsible for other people’s feelings, but everyone is responsible for hers.

chyna's avatar

I agree with your sister. You can’t live your life being a people pleaser.

hmmmmmm's avatar

Do you love your sister?

stanleybmanly's avatar

That is exactly the flaw with her strategy. Interaction with the world and opinions of others is all but impossible. Her inability to exclude their opinions from her own well being renders her superb defense useless. She copes through reducing the possibilities to the minimum, but suffers the great misfortune of a wide open unbuttoned sister

Dutchess_III's avatar

Another example. I often refrain from being too blunt about my religious beliefs here. I really try to be mild out of simple respect for the people here who are religious. I know sometimes I fail, but I try.
Should I just say “Fuck em. They don’t like what I have to say, they can eat shit and die.”
Is that right philosophy?

Yes, I love her @hmmmmmm. But we only talk maybe once every 2 years. And then it’s solid hour about her. I can’t get a word in edgewise. So it’s just me listening and going “Um uh. Uh huh.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I’m not wide open and I am certainly not unbuttoned @stanleybmanly! :D I just don’t agree that you don’t have to take other people’s feelings into consideration, especially if you know what is liable to hurt them.

She is very religious. She graduated from the Seminary. She worked for some time giving spiritual counsel to dying people. She would absolutely FREAK out if she found out I am now an atheist, so I’ll never tell her.
It would have hurt my Catholic mother deeply to learn that too, so I never told her.

Is that wrong of me?

ucme's avatar

It’s a hard nosed approach that makes Joe Frazier seem like Shirley Temple.
If it serves her well, then hey…more power to her elbow.

stanleybmanly's avatar

Where else is she going to go to bounce her troubles around? There are a bunch of folks I’ve known forever whose distinguishing traits always come down to “I have no friends”. And my primary function with each of them is to listen. It drives my wife crazy . But I honestly do not understand why most people don’t realize, and particularly guys complaining about an inability to find a girl. All you need do to have women hanging off you like bees on clover is to sit still and listen to them.

seawulf575's avatar

@Dutchess_III as to how you respond to religious discussions is entirely up to you. Yes, you could say whatever you like and if people don’t like it, fuck ‘em. I don’t base my religious beliefs on what you think of me. We sometimes alter what we want to say not because we fear offending someone…but because we worry about what others think about us. And there is no way everyone will like you all the time. It is a losing proposition.

Dutchess_III's avatar

You completely missed my point @seawulf575. It’s not how I would respond to religious discussion. It’s how my sister and my mother would respond. It has nothing to do with offending them. It would hurt them because they love me. I love them, and I have no desire to hurt them, so I won’t tell them.

I don’t understand why some people are having a hard time grasping that concept, of taking other people’s feelings into consideration. Not ALL people. Not everyone. I’m not suggesting you lose yourself trying to make the world happy, but at least those who are family or friends, and who you know well enough to know what would upset them and avoid the discussion. It’s the right thing to do.

Dutchess_III's avatar

@seawulf575 Do you love your family? Do you love, really love, anyone? Could you hurt them, when it could have been avoided, then just walk away, uncaring?

stanleybmanly's avatar

And that serves a good purpose. The problem for your sister is that the one person of whose affection she can be assured without reservation does not “understand” her art output. Now clearly, your sister understands objectively that your indifference to her art has absolutely nothing to do with your evaluation of her as a person. But you’ve got to see that as long as that artwork is the ONLY part of her out there she allows exposed, any declaration that it is not a masterpiece must by necessity be regarded as akin to rejection of her.

flutherother's avatar

It seems a very one sided philosophy; you have to be very careful about her feelings but she doesn’t consider yours. If everyone was like that civilization would collapse but then not everyone is like that.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Exactly @flutherother. It’s always been that way. It was like that with Mom, too.

Oh, @stanleybmanly, I just say things like, “Oh, I like those colors!”
“I like the design!”
“How very interesting!”
And after each comment she’ll go on a tangent, as though I asked where she gets her inspiration from, and talk for an hour about it. So, it works, I guess.

The truth would be something like, “That is so dark and frightening and WEIRD. It’s depressing. I hate it.” (I’m digging up some of her sculptures now.)

seawulf575's avatar

@Dutchess_III I have been in that exact position..having to say and do things that hurt someone and was willing to walk away. When my step-daughter was hooked on heroin, I took many actions that at first seemed heartless, yet were done because I loved her. I had her arrested for a felony. My wife did not want to do that to her daughter. But I viewed it as a way to get her off the street and start getting clean. Without doing that, she would likely have died. Later, after she got out she went back to the same “friends” and started using again. I had a very tough conversation with her….one my wife really didn’t want me to have. I told my s-d that I was done. I was not doing this any more. I told her that if she wanted to hang with these “friends” and go back down that path of drugs, she needed to do it somewhere else…she was not welcome in my home any more. But If she wanted to actually start getting turned around and doing something with her life, I would be there with her 100% of the way to help her and to kick her in the ass when she needed it, but she needed to make a decision there and then. I even added that if she chose her friends, I only wanted to know if she wanted to be buried or cremated.
Sound heartless? Yeah…it’s called tough love. She chose option B….turning her life around. And true to my word I was there to give encouragement and caring and love as well as the occasional kick in the pants. She later told me that “heartless” talk I had with her was the thing that turned her around. She realized I meant every word of it and realized how far out she was.
That’s the thing…she could just as easily have gone the other way with it. And I would have let her walk because I know that there was only one person that could change her…that would be herself. And if she chose that other way, she would most likely be dead today and the last words I had with her would have been those. But I was not responsible for her choice. I was responsible to say and do the things I felt needed to be said and done to rectify a horrible situation, regardless of the consequences.
I don’t go out of my way to cause pain. I don’t purposely try to piss people off (except a few jellies on here…it’s a small character flaw I have). But I certainly can’t worry about how my every word will be interpreted. If I offend someone I care about and don’t realize it, they will tell me and I will apologize and be sincere about it. It happens. If I say something that offends someone I don’t know, why should I really care? And that is what I was talking about when I said you can’t please everyone all the time. If you say something that @stanleybmanly likes, you will likely offend me or my views. Do you really care if you offend me? I would hope not. Your sister might take it too far, or what you consider too far. But really…isn’t she just being her? You may not like that side of her…it might be one of the things that bothers you about her. Do you still love her? Are you willing to walk away from her because she is direct and maybe a bit self-centered?

canidmajor's avatar

@Dutchess_III You missed my point. Your statement: ”I think she deveoloped all of these ideas through the counseling she has received and I think someone missed the mark somehow.” indicates that you ascribe responsibility for her behavior to the counseling and not to your sister. Do her the courtesy of assuming that she is responsible for her own thoughts and actions, even if you don’t like them.

Dutchess_III's avatar

The words she uses are…I don’t know how to explain it. They aren’t natural. They sound rehearsed. Like she’s reciting something from the 12 step program she took back in the early 90s. (She missed the one where you’re supposed to apologize to those you hurt when you were drinking, though.)

Oh, I hold her fully responsible for her behavior, but she doesn’t. She holds Mom and everybody else responsible for her behavior. Blames me and our other sister when it’s convenient. She’ll say something she knows is painful, but doesn’t accept responsibility because “I can’t help how you feel about it.”
I, on the other hand, DO take responsibility if I say something that hurt someone.

I would not tell her the truth of what I think of her sculptures. It would cut her too deeply, wound her too much and I don’t want to hurt her. According to many of you I should be able to say “Hey, I’m just telling you the truth. I can’t help how you react to it!” That’s bullshit. When you KNOW how it’s going to hurt, but you say it anyway, it’s on you. It’s cruel.

longgone's avatar

The way you say things is your responsibility. How your words are received is not. It’s a subtle distinction, but very important.

Inspired_2write's avatar

“She is extremely self centered. One of her philosophies is that she needs to make herself happy first. ”

I agree but NOT at the expense of others. Reiterate to her her statement ..“to make herself happy” and watch the fireworks when its applied back to her.

“Another philosophy is that she doesn’t worry about what she says to others, or how she says it, will affect them because there is no way to know how they’re going to react, and they are responsible for their own reactions.”
Oh so SHE doesn’t worry about what SHE says to others but “others” have to put up with hers?
Stop here in her tracks as soon as that song is sung with” I don’t care what you think, after all I am now caring more about MY happiness right at this moment and I am NOT lam going away to speak with more compassionate civil people .

She is manipulating you with her intellectualism just to outsmart ( she thinks) you?

Take control as soon as negativity spews from out of her mouth. Its based on insecurity and you are her victim for all the anger that she feels about her life.

Physically walk away from her when she starts.
On the phone hang up abruptly and let her know that when she is more civil you might consider her in your life again?
She has problems understanding others and patience ,tolerance for an others opinion.

snowberry's avatar

She sounds a bit like my oldest. She’s totally self centered, and not to be trusted. Not with any private information, possessions, or anything that you value.

I love all my children, but this one must be handled very carefully.

Inspired_2write's avatar

I just had another thought on this in regards to her Artwork.
Best to just state that “you are not an expert, but “if” she is happy with it, that is all that matters right”...this would play into her argument that ” she doesn’t care what others think” while getting you off the hook.

BTW people who are angry paint angry dark images as paintings…its emotions spewed on a canvas. She is showing you that she is angry or depressed. because she has problems communicating her anger without causing fights.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

She’s….depressed. Her work is very dark and morbid, IMO.

We’re doing OK with the way I handle. If I said ”...but if it makes you happy….” she’d instantly recognize it as one on those psychological buzz phrases that is hiding something and she’d go after it.

She doesn’t have to show me a thing. I’ve dealt with her for 57 years.

On a side note, my folks split up and Mom moved to her home state of Washington in 1979. She took Beck with her. That effectively ended our relationship.

Pandora's avatar

We are not responsible for how people react to what we say to a certain level. Example. Lets take a racist who feels like spewing a bunch of hateful comments. When they get punched in the face it was because they were asking for it. They do know that at a certain point people will react violently to what they say. So I call bull on her not knowing what a person reaction would be. Now if you say stuff in your own defense to be rid of someone who is a butt then thats different. Motive is always at the core of what we say.

Everything we say is to evoke an emotional response from someone or we wouldn’t say it. Some to evoke thinking, or to offend or to open up someones eyes. If a person speaks just to speak then they simply just love the sound of their voice. Motive matters. No offense but your sister sounds like an idiot. Not meaning to offend you, but her I matter above everyone else is something a selfish person will say. I don’t matter above everyone else but I don’t matter less either. Doesnt’ sound like her therapist is doing her any favors. I know someone who had a therapist who taught her the same thing. She just become more isolated and depressed and people withdrew from her because of this attitude.

One day she got attitude with her mother in my home and I kicked her out and told her she couldn’t come back until she apologized. And I told her if she intended to end up alone in life, this was a good start, because no one in there right mind has to put up with garbage from another person. She changed her therapist and became much happier after that.

I feel some therapist say things that will keep patients coming back.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Thank you @Pandora.
She doesn’t have just 1 therapist. I imagine she’s had a dozen over the years.
I think she’s wrong to act like she doesn’t have any responsibility for saying things that hurt people.
“Oh, that hurt you? Well, you choose to get hurt. You could have chosen not to get hurt. I refuse to accept responsibility for your emotions.”

Dutchess_lll's avatar

16 years ago, when my middle daughter was 18, she had a daughter. She was not married. There was a family reunion in Texas that my sister was able to make.
At some point in the days that followed my sister referred to my grand daughter as a “bastard.” Within my daughter’s hearing.
My daughter also had a tattoo of her horoscope (Cancer) sign on her wrist. It kind of looks like 69. My sister also said I was a crappy mother for allowing my (18 year old) daughter to get a tattoo proclaiming her love of oral sex. She also said this within my daughter’s hearing.
And she just left all that shit there and walked away, dusting her hands clean of the insults she had just thrown down….after seeing us for the first time in 15 years.

Pinguidchance's avatar

Narcissism/depression may be managed using psychotherapy and medication.

Try and be as supportive as possible.

Dutchess_lll's avatar

I try to be supportive @Pinguidchance. That’s why I’m still here after all these years. She has wounded all of us deeply over the years, but I’m still here.

She’s 58 and 2000 miles away. Her psychotherapy and medication options are on her.

seawulf575's avatar

@Dutchess_lll When you talk about your sister blaming everyone else for her problems, that is an entirely different issue. That is lack of personal responsibility. That warrants the kick-in-the-pants discussion. Just like she is not responsible for how others react to her words, they are not responsible for how her life goes. She is.

snowberry's avatar

It would be interesting to hear how she’d react to, “Are you asking for my permission for you to make this art? You have it.”

Inspired_2write's avatar


I was talking with my older brother about a sister who “ran off with the mouth” in delicate situations too.

He told me that his ex wife would “only” act out when there was an audience.

She was an “attention” seeking and later in life was medically pegged as ” Bipolar personality”.( not all have this on…)

She had caused so much unnecessary pain and suffering around a vast number of people and usually it was to obtain something that she wanted.

Now she is remarried again and her husband is an older man who now has the role of parenting his wife?

I say parenting , because he had to place restrictions on her over spending habits that would destabilize there finances.( much like a father that would give an allowance).

On further information that I gathered from my older brother was that her father was in the Military and gone most of her life, she missed him and this affected all her relationships throughout her life.

It is evident that she needed a father figure to replace her absent father?

It was too bad that she terrorized others with her antics all the while indirectly stating “notice me” I am here,as a plea for recognition?

There is a lot of damaged women from father absent homes, and it is only now that the importance of this need for girls to be acknowledged by there fathers is recognized in society.

After all the father is the first male that gives the child a glimpse of how important it is for fathers to present what makes a good role model for searching out a good partner in life.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Dad was a good dad. He was very present. He was not abusive. He took care of us all. His only downfall, IMO, is that he was aloof. But he was a good man.
A lot of girls (and boys) can also be damaged by their mother. My sister claims Mom caused all of her problems.

Below is her art. It is in a gallery. I appreciate the talent, but it is nothing I’d want in my home. Too dark. I can not bring my self to gush and say, “Oh, I LOVE it.” I don’t.












Dutchess_III's avatar

@Pinguidchance I do try to be supportive. However, I have found that if we talk for too long, or interact too long, say more than 10 minutes, I am bound to say something “wrong,” which sends her into a fit.

She’s going through a really rough time. The thing is, I’ve been where she is (broke.) I was there for 5 long years with 4 kids I was trying to support. However, to listen to her tell it, noone has any clue what she is going through, so don’t pretend like I do.
But she didn’t start with that until after she cashed the $250 check I sent her.

rebbel's avatar

I remember, if I am correct, that you have shown us this (or similar pieces) before once.
I like it.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Yes. But I’m sure many didn’t see it before.
I am sure there are people out there who it would appeal to, but I’m not one of them and I’m not going to pretend I am so I don’t have to deal with a WWIII breakdown.

Dutchess_III's avatar

Hey @rebbel. They are all for sale.

A few months back she made a facebook account. I saw it right off. Shocked the shit out of me! I was like, “Hi! What are you doing?”
She was all in a tizzy because she’d made the account with an eye toward selling her art and she was utterly baffled.
I offered to create a page for her and admin it.
She said, “But then the question of getting paid would come up.”
I said, “Tell you what…after you make your first million we can talk about payment then.”
Then she said, “But I don’t want to have to do all this click and like and talk and stuff.”
I said, “You don’t have to. You don’t have to do ANYTHING but provide me with pictures and approve descriptions.”
She said it sounded good…but then just dropped it.

rebbel's avatar

@Dutchess_III There must be a market for them, I would think.
But it sounds as if your sis is not really interested in selling them (not wanting to put effort into it, and all).

Dutchess_III's avatar

Oh, she desperately wants to sell them. She just doesn’t understand the power of the internet. And she is easily frustrated with all the stupid people around her, LOL!

But yay! She sent me 4 more pictures of pieces that she has at her house, with the comment they were all for sale. I asked if she wanted me to pub them on a Facebook buy / sell / trade site.
She just said, “You have my cart blanch permission to market my art!“k
Whew. I can already tell you she’ll be difficult to deal with, though. She sends confusing, garbled mixed messages.
I think she’s talking about a couple of masks and she said, ”$375.00 each, both for $650.00 + $18.00”
I copied and pasted ”$375.00 each, both for $650.00 + $18.00…“and added “for both what?”
She came back with “Both for $700!!!”
I said, “Both what? I’ve been looking at several of your pieces so I’m a little confused now.”

stanleybmanly's avatar

Tell us please that she is not relying on her art as her primary means of support.

rebbel's avatar

@Dutchess_III Possibly it meant ”$650 for two” (since she says $375 for each; any two pieces are $650 (well, $700 now)).

Inspired_2write's avatar

This is ‘Just” my opinion on her art.
To me it looks like she has stripped everything down to its bare bones and by adding looks similar to a Dragon adds to the mystery theme.

I take it as a metaphor of ” looking at things deeper to the core or bare bones” and finding the beauty under that as well, somewhat.

Have her check with Art Dealers and perhaps others may share her concept as well.

Art is expensive to create at this level regardless and so it seems all artists cannot sustain a living just on their pieces until it sells and is in demand.

Movie Studios may be interested in purchasing or using in movies that require this type of scenes.
There is a market for it, just have to know the right Art dealer.

Good luck. That is what I took from viewing her Art.

I know another who does someone disjointed art Picasso ( Picasso was on drugs a lot and his art took on that disjointed and dark themes too and yet it sold).

That other person my sister had paintings of body like an eye up there, mouth big and it looked like scrabble pieces of human features all over the canvas.

I assume that she feels disjointed from society and in pieces herself feeling that she doesn’t fit in?( hence the pieces of herself are all over the canvas)?

The huge mouth..I assume ‘talking too much” or” more mouth then action ”, that she is portraying how she feels about herself ?

The above is just my analysis of trying to understand the Art.I notice that quite frequently Artists take metaphors and produce pieces to convey that to observers of there Art.

Dutchess_III's avatar

I am sure there are people who could see a lot more into them than I do, and appreciate them more than I do.

I’m excited that she’s finally given me the green light to create a page for her so we can get her stuff sold.
But she’s confusing me. She has two masks. She sends pictures and pricing, $375.
Then says, “You don’t have to sell them together but I have someone who is interested in buying them both.”
Do you want me to put them on the market or not?! I asked her that, but not quite that way.

Dutchess_III's avatar

She said, “They dont have to be sold together, but I have found that a buyer would probably want both.”

I said, “If you have a buyer, do you want me to sell them still?”

She said, “Yes, I want to sell them. No, I dont have a buyer, but it is not uncommon that a buyer would want all the pieces in a series. In this case both the maks.”

Dutchess_lll's avatar

Wait…now I see that I misread her comment. My brain left out the word “that.” My bad.

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