The 51% Rule

The 51% Rule says that we need to consider our own needs just a little more than those of others in order to be able to help them effectively.

When we look at all the challenges associated with living with a person who suffers from a personality disorder, things can often seem frustrating and overwhelming. Sometimes, the mountain seems so high, all we can do is look at it. This tends to immobilize us. We become weaker and more frustrated. We become no help to the loved ones we care about or, just as importantly, to ourselves. Nothing gets done and nothing gets any better.

When we feel or perceive things in that way it's hard to make the decisions we need to make or to trust in the decisions we have already made.

There is a way that has worked for me in reducing the size of the mountain. Instead of looking at the relationship as a black and white issue (that either they have to get completely healthy or I have to gain complete control over them) I have found that all I need to do is get just a little more than halfway to be on healthy ground.

If you think of it in terms of weights and measurements, if one pound is "total healthy living" and zero pounds is "in the gutter", then all I have to achieve is 8 ounces plus one to be on healthy ground (not the whole pound).

Or, in sporting terms, if the zero yard line is being "in the gutter" and the hundred yard line is "narcissistic", then all I have to do is be at least one foot across the 50 yard line to be on healthy ground.

For me, it just made the journey ahead seem not so long.

This isn't being selfish - it's just being sensible. I'm not saying "give yourself 100% and the other person gets nothing." That's not a healthy place.

And I'm not saying "give the other person 100% and leave yourself nothing." We Non's sometimes make the mistake of thinking we have to meet all the other person's needs before we can begin to think about ourselves. If you are in a relationship with someone who gives back, perhaps you don't have to worry about taking care of yourself, because the other person will also be watching out for you. But if the other person has a personality disorder, their focus can shift to just themselves for blocks of time and they aren't always going to be consistent. You can't just rely on them to look out for your needs.

In other words, all we have to do is care for ourselves first - at least one ounce more than anyone else. That will put us on firmer, and less frustrating ground. Then, when we know that we will be ok, we can maybe give those that want it a helping hand as well.

Contributed by Gary Walters