Hidden Agendas serve two basic functions:
to build and preserve an existential position, i.e., a
basic stance about the world (it serves to protect you
from feelings of low self-esteem, hurt feelings, your
vulnerability - an individual strategy for coping with
core feelings of inadequacy)
to promote ulterior motives and desires.
If you want friends but are scared of directness, you
might "hook" them in with a hidden agenda. If expression
of anger or sadness is not OK, a hidden agenda may allow
this expression in an acceptable manner. Hidden agendas
are adaptive, serve a definite psychological survival
purpose but only work in the short run and the current
situation. They do not serve well in the long run to
build the closeness and comfort that we all want.
1. I'M GOOD: The Hero of all our
own stories. Your are the "best", the best, the biggest,
the most sensitive, the toughest. A mask of only the best
parts of our-selves that makes it hard for others to see
the rest of our "selves" - & boring!
2. I'M GOOD (BUT YOU'RE NOT):
Everybody is selfish, insensitive, boorish, stupid,
scared, but NOT ME! It usually amounts to a short boost in
self-esteem by standing on the broken backs of others. The
criticism can be direct or implied.
3. YOU'RE GOOD BUT I'M NOT: "You
are so good at that, and I never could", "Gee, I wish I
was as smart, brave, sensitive, tough as you". A real
invitation to feel guilty for all the hard work you have
put into your accomplishment! False flattery from the
falsely modest can help them feel better for only the
4. I'M HELPLESS, I SUFFER: I'm
stuck, I try hard, I don't get any breaks, I have had a
tough life, "I-don't-get-no respect", I don't know, I
can't, It's too hard. In the end the victim "wins" by
showing that nothing or nobody can help.
5. I'M BLAMELESS: The basic
posture is "I didn't have anything to do with it, I didn't
do it, I am not at fault or responsible". These people
will ask for advice so that if all goes well, they take
credit, if not, you get the blame for your "bad" advice.
They take no personal responsibility for their own
6. I'M FRAGILE: "Don't hurt me."
This position is advertised by stories of past betrayals,
old wounds and hurts that they have never given up and
reinforced with their invitation to treat them "gently" by
their generally "wounded" posture.
7. I'M TOUGH: "When the going
gets tough, the tough get going". These folks often do
"two peoples" work, and pay the price. Psychologically
these people advertise "Don't ask, I'm too busy", "Don't
make ordinary or emotional demands on me, I have other
important things to do." They armour themselves with work.
8. I KNOW IT ALL: "I'm glad you
asked!". They can talk about anything regardless of their
familiarity with the subject. They often surround
themselves with the younger, less informed, or the blindly
admiring. They get to avoid feeling inadequate about
themselves by acting like they are "in the know".