“I happened to notice that when I attempt to motivate you with positive reinforcement, it doesn’t work as well as negative reinforcement.” I had to chuckle when a new boyfriend made that observation. I always say there are only two things that motivate people: pain and pleasure, but pain is the stronger of the two motivators.
I grew up an only child to a very critical mother whom I didn’t realize was critical until I was almost 40. The way we grow up is simply our “normal,” and it was only when I lived in Dallas, Texas and she came to visit that people told me, “Your mom is mean.”
Mean? Like when she grabbed the wrist of the waitress who started to give someone else the check when Mom had already announced she was paying? And when we went on a road trip to the East Coast together, she insisted she didn’t care one bit whether we went to Atlantic City or stayed the night in Philadelphia but yelled and wouldn’t quit complaining that she didn’t want to go there when I pulled up to the boardwalk?
In fact, whenever relatives told stories about her, they would take on a gruff tone and a sneering face like a parent playing the Big, Bad Wolf in telling the story of the Three Little Pigs.