No matter how much attention, time or effort you give something, it is not good enough.
No matter how much you offer, you are discounted for not offering more, or for not offering something different. Relationship problems result. Does it sound familiar?
What to do? Well before action, thinking is required. Preparing yourself well through reflection is important. You need to reflect on the validity of this other person's accusations.
Is it at all true, in your opinion, that YOU:
- do not put enough effort into your work, thinking, appearance, relationship, or whatever is being criticized?
- do not care to live/work/love/think/exercise up to your potential?
- are ALWAYS late, careless, thoughtless, difficult, lax or lazy?
- are NEVER working up to par, living up to par?
You get the drift.
It is highly unlikely that you are purposefully going out of your way to avoid living up to the expectations of S/He Who Won't Be Pleased! You are likely being you, doing things your way. It's just not their way.
Truth be told, they may not even know what their way is. All they know is that they have a need to find fault. They may even thing they are pointing things out "for your own good." Ah, you're nodding. You've heard that one!
(PSST... If, by chance, you think/know you are doing it on purpose, then, that's a topic for another blog post because you need another train of thought than this one. You are excused!)
What's important to know is what is your stuff and what is the other person's stuff.
Once you have been self-reflective and spent a while on that process, you will be able to determine if you are living your life in a way that is demonstrating the alignment of your values, vision, beliefs and purpose each day, and especially in response to the other person's criticisms, demands, or disappointments. If not, you can change your approach because you see value in doing so.
If you are living in that alignment, then remember that and behave accordingly when confronted by S/He Who Won't Be Pleased. You are not here to live up to the expectations of S/He Who Won't Be Pleased. That is an impossible task. Why? Because S/He is not willing to be self-reflective and discover what need they are trying to fill or have met by being difficult. Unfortunately, the very role of S/He Who Won't Be Pleased insures that S/He will never be pleased as it is self-fulfilling.
Free yourself from this internally. As I said above, if you're not purposefully going out of your way to avoid living up to the expectations of S/He, and you are living in alignment with your values, vision, beliefs and purpose, then you are free. The happiness/satisfaction/contentment/respect of S/He is not on your shoulders. Each of us is responsible for creating that for ourselves, within ourselves. It is not external.
Once free internally, you can respond in compassionate ways, verbally and otherwise.
It is possible, and generally, a good idea to accept people as they are. That is simply respectful. Not expecting them to be different, or hoping they will have an epiphany allows you to be more accepting.
Sometimes, though, it is compassionate to all concerned to step out of the relationship, for a while...or a lifetime. Your choice.