My Personality Is a Problem: Teresa

My Personality Is a Problem: Teresa
Teresa's whining needs to stop before she pushes her loved ones out of her life.
Whether it's shopping for clothes, deciding where to eat, or picking a movie to see, Teresa whines to get what she wants when she wants it. "Nine times out of 10, I get what I want, and the tenth time is when the argument starts," she says, turning to Dr. Phil for help. "Please help me stop whining, because I'm pushing everyone in my life away."

She recognizes that she's been a spoiled brat her entire life. "I really just don't see why I shouldn't get the things that I feel I should have when I want them. If I ask for it, I should get it," she says.

Dr. Phil probes further: If Teresa always gets her way, then why does she want to change?

"I am utterly impossible to get along with," she explains. "People don't like me."

"At some point you say, 'I know this is unfair, I know it is immature, I know it is manipulative, but I am going to do it anyway because I am entitled,'" Dr. Phil tells Teresa. "I want to know what gives you the right to do that, how you justify that in your mind."

Teresa says she gets caught up in the moment.

Dr. Phil turns to Teresa's mom, Sandra, to find out why she gives in to her daughter. "I believe you teach people how to treat you," he tells her. "And you've taught her that if you whine long enough, I will give you what you want."

Sandra says the problem began because Teresa's grandfather spoiled her as a baby, but Dr. Phil wants to know why Sandra continues to do it.

"I think a lot of it is out of guilt," Sandra says. "I've been ill a lot, physically ill, and haven't been there a lot for her ... I feel guilty so I let her have her way."

Teresa admits that she tries to make her mom feel guilty as a method to get her way.

Comparing Teresa to a young child who throws a tantrum until she gets her way, Dr. Phil says, "I see you as being manipulative, demanding, tyrannical and damn selfish."

Teresa acknowledges the truth in that, and Dr. Phil asks, "What are you going to do to change that? At some point, you've got to be able to look yourself in the mirror and say, 'I am going to require more of myself. I am going to stop manipulating and browbeating and bullying my mother, and I'm going to start behaving like I have some integrity and some dignity.'"

Teresa has been with the same man for four years, and they have a 2 1/2 year old. Dr. Phil is surprised that someone has put up with Teresa for so long. He tells her, "Nobody that has any sense of self will put up with you!"

Dr. Phil asks, "What are you afraid of?"

"Of being alone," Teresa answers, breaking into tears.

"So what you fear, you create," Dr. Phil says.

"What if you decided: 'I'm just going to freefall. I'm just going to take the plunge and find out if my mother will love me and care for me and companion me even when I don't make her jump through hoops for me,'" Dr. Phil suggests. Then, perhaps people would come toward Teresa instead of slamming the door in her face.

Sandra assures her daughter that she would be there for her — especially "if she were nicer, a little more understanding to other people's needs." She adds, "I love my daughter, but I really don't like her."

Dr. Phil tells Sandra that her behavior needs to change too. "Why don't you resolve to quit enabling her," he suggests. Teresa's whining habit is an addiction, and Sandra needs to help end it. "Quit supplying her with the drug."