Other People are Responsible for the Way I Feel

A consistent characteristic of imperative people is the desire to persuade others to be just like them. When encouraged to look back to their childhoods, most imperative people can recall a history of strong persuasion. The parents have been so intent on keeping order that their behavior said, “If I can get you to behave in my world, there will be order.” Developmental years were full of relationships that featured arm-twisting, intimidation, or threats.

Jack told me that he had learned early on that it was not safe to be vulnerable. He told me, “I remember a scene when I was only five or six years old. I had just stepped onto the back porch of our home to set something outside when a very loud clap of thunder sounded. Scared to death, I ran indoors, where my father grabbed me and told me to quit acting so ridiculous. Then my mother scolded me for upsetting my father. I was immediately defensive and told them they were both mean. The next thing I knew, I was smarting from a spanking.”

“In a sense you were in school at times like that.” I said, “You witnessed how effectively they persuaded you to be what they wanted, so you eventually learned to do likewise with your family.”

While it is a good thing to express opinions (as opposed to repressing them), it is not healthy for us to become bossy or condescending or explosive in order to get our way.

Les Carter, Imperative People: Those Who Must Be in Control