“I frequently hear…others say to a person…’I told him he needs to do it, but he still doesn’t.”
I usually say it is not true that he needs to do it. ‘Apparently he does not need to at all, or he would be doing it. It sounds as though you are the only one who feels the need for him to perform. He obviously feels no need at all. I think what we have to talk about is how to transfer the need for him to perform from your shoulders onto his, as he is the only person who can do anything about it.’ Consequences are the way to do that. When people begin to feel consequences for their behavior or performance…the need has finally been transferred from the shoulders of the people who should not be experiencing it to the shoulders of the one who should.
When a spouse says to the alcoholic, ‘You need to go to AA,’ that is obviously not true. The addict feels no need to do that at all, and isn’t. But when she says, ‘I am moving out and will be open to getting back together when you are getting treatment for your addiction,’ then all of sudden the addict feels ‘I need to get some help or I am going to lose my marriage.’ The need has been transferred….When he feels the pain, he will feel the need to change.
A plan that has hope is one that limits your exposure to the foolish person’s issues and forces him to feel the consequences of his performances so that he might have hope of waking up and changing.”
Necessary Endings, Dr. Henry Cloud, p 141-142