Alanis Morissette – You Owe Me Nothing In Return
This is someone’s YouTube posting of mostly the lyrics of the song. I was not able to find an actual video made by Alanis Morissette.
This song is intended to be from one person to another. The general message is to be able to love someone else unconditionally – which is great and is something to strive for. It is also a message against those relationships where basically, one person is held hostage in the relationship through guilting, blaming and or shaming.
The reality though, is that we are all human beings struggling to do the right thing and always imperfectly. We all have needs and if we come from a dysfunctional background, we have not learned how to appropriately get those needs met. There is a healthy ‘give and take’ in relationships. Sometimes expressing your own needs comes to be seen – by yourself, as well as possibly others around you, as being ‘selfish’. The struggle is, basically, to come to an answer to the question ‘am I being selfish for wanting this?’ The idea of unconditional love gets distorted. An individual can find themselves stuck in a bad situation due to this confusion and distortion of unconditional love versus setting limits on someone else’s behavior.
This is a difficult topic to address in one posting. In terms of this song, I hear it as being from a higher power, not another human being. Your higher power can love you, and does love you, unconditionally. No matter how you act or what you do, your higher power will accept you and forgive you. Even while you experience the consequences of your behavior, it is not your higher power that is punishing you. You can express yourself and ask for what you need to your higher power, and your higher power will respond. This is guaranteed, although you may not always hear the answer, or like the answer, your higher power is there for you.
Can you set limits on someone’s behavior and still love them? Where does the other person end and you begin? Are you making another human being your higher power?
In 2002, I was struggling with my spiritual life. I basically didn’t have one and was feeling inadequate spiritually. Whatever I did was not quite the ‘right’ thing or not ‘good enough’. Then I heard this song on the radio while driving somewhere and it opened up my heart to accept myself and my spirituality just as it was.
Billy Joel – Just the Way You Are
You too, may be struggling with an aspect of yourself. We get so much information from various places as to what is a ‘correct’ spiritual practice. Inevitably, we are not as evolved as we would like to be, or that we think that we should be. We don’t believe what we are told to believe, or lack sufficient trust to simply accept. Development of your spiritual side actually is a lot of work. A lot of work, that is done very slowly and at times is painful. One of the first steps in being able to develop your own spirituality, is to accept yourself just as you are.
Shame and Isolation: these two states exacerbate mental unwellness. Shame is essentially, believing in your own low self-worth; your ‘wrongness’; and often, shows your inability to forgive yourself – your sense that possibly you ought not to be forgiven. If you are ashamed of yourself – your thoughts or your actions, it is very difficult to tell someone else. There is the fear of being judged or scorned. Isolation keeps you apart from others that may be able to give you a different perspective on your situation.
Shame and isolation are obstacles to healing because they block learning new ways of coping; of viewing the situation differently; or even of looking at yourself in a less harsh way. The thing that keeps shame and isolation alive is your own belief that what you are thinking is true, is correct, and that there are no alternatives. People close to you may also be telling you the same thing which only serves to keep things as they are.
Psychotherapy is one way of exploring these issues in a setting that is safe and free from judgment. One of the tasks in psychotherapy is to identify and take responsibility for your role in your problems but let go of the immobilizing guilt or blame for things that you are not in fact responsible for.
When an individual is in depression/anxiety and/or a dysfunctional family system – it is hard to see the forest for the trees. It seems easier to remain ashamed and isolated than to risk some unknown consequence for saying out loud the things that are weighing you down.
The biggest risk you now face is finding an individual you can trust. It could be a therapist, a friend, a priest, or a family member. It’s up to you to take that step.
Setting goals; thinking about making changes can be very overwhelming. We can write lists; read books; talk to others and get suggestions and after all is said and done, nothing happens. Or, more precisely, we don’t do anything differently. ‘Doing the next right thing’ is a simple way around complicated thinking on the change we want to make. If we get caught up in whether what we want to do is THE right thing, we can remain stuck forevermore. Maybe psychotherapy will not bring you the answers to all your questions. Actually, it probably won’t – because no one thing is the answer. Psychotherapy is simply one tool to add to your toolbox. You probably have some other tools already that you know how to use welll; possibly some thing-a-ma-jigs that you are not quite sure what they’re for. Psychotherapy can help you see your existing strengths and skills, as well as help you to develop new ones.