John Shore Christian Blog and Commentary

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The Spoiled Rotten Adult

Inside all People of the Shrug

Do you have someone in your life who is absolutely incapable of getting excited about anything? Who is like a black hole of emotion, sucking all feelings around them down into their into bottomless vortex of negativity and/or apathy? Whose basic response to everything you ever tell them is to be immediately bored by it, since according to them it's exactly like something that happened to them once, which means they already know everything you could possibly tell them about it?

Someone who's primary response to life is to shrug and say, "Well, whaddaya gonna do?"?

Someone who just refuses to emotionally participate? Ever? About anything?

Doesn't that person drive you insane?

If, like me, you've had reason to wonder about such people---why they are as they are; how they got as they are; what about being as they are works for them; what's the effect of how they are on people whose lives are intimately related to theirs?---then, for what it's worth, here's just about the sum of my thoughts on such people, whom I privately think of as People of the Shrug:

People of the Shrug are profoundly emotionally spoiled. They're two-year-olds in adult bodies. They act the way they do because they're insisting that life now be like life was back when they were the center of their parents' universe.

As children, People of the Shrug were spoiled within the context of a dysfunctional family. An only child in a dysfunctional family is likely to become a Shrugger.

It's critical for People of the Shrug that nothing good ever happens to anyone, since that would destroy their pretext for never getting involved in anything, which is that nothing ever changes. Having good things happen---fresh things, new things, exciting things---forces the question of why they  aren't doing anything to make fresh, new, and exciting things happen in their or anyone else's life. Which they will not do, since that would take the attention off of them.

Being a Shrugger works for the following reasons:

1. You're always right. By refusing to acknowledge that anything ever changes, you're forever proven right in your assertion that nothing ever does. You win!

2. You're never disappointed. Being all-knowing means you can't be surprised, because you already know everything that's going to happen. Sure, that nothing new is under the sun means you can't be happy or enthusiastic about anything. But it also means you can't be disappointed. You win!

3. You get to be lazy. Why work, if nothing ever really changes anyway? You win!

4. You're guilt-free. Since nothing ever changes, the way things are can't possibly be your fault. You win!

People of the Shrug are incapable of healthy relationships, since they cannot put anyone ahead of themselves. They simply cannot give emotionally. Hence the truth that spouses of Shruggers always have low self-esteem.

If someone near to you is a Shrugger, there is only and exactly one way to deal with them: Expect nothing from them. Severe yourself from your every last expectation from them. It's terrible---but there it is. They're not going to give it up---not for you or anyone else. Ever. They don't hate you; for them, it's not really about anger or hostility. It's about needing to be the center of the universe. When dealing with a Shrugger, your only choice is to let them be the center of the universe. But do not ever expect to share that center with them. That can't happen. You can fulfill their emotional needs, but it can't be a reciprocal thing.

You can give. And that's it.

I wrote this for anyone who has a parent who is Shrugger.

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Related post: Unhappy? Reject Your Parents.