Can’t get blood from turnips

Variation on the old saying:  you can’t squeeze blood out of a turnip.

Some say: You can’t get blood from a stone.

The saying is about two hundred years old, and it still holds true today. My guess is that the “turnip” was originally picked for the proverb because of it’s reddish color. Even though it might look like that red indicates blood inside the vegetable, you can squeeze forever and you’ll still never get blood from the turnip.

But what does it mean, and what’s it got to do with stress management?

When you are trying to get “blood” (money, help, advice, feedback, love… etc.) from a “turnip” (someone who does not have those qualities), you can do everything in your power, but you will fail. You won’t get that blood you are seeking.

And in the meantime, you’ll be totally stressed out, as you try one thing after another to wheedle, cajole, bargain, argue, plead, beg, threaten and stand on your head. It won’t matter what you do. They don’t have it to give you.

Now, you might say, “But my friend does have money, and I just want him to loan me enough to tide me over to the end of the month.”  In that example, the blood you are trying to squeeze from that friend-turnip isn’t the money itself, it’s the generous impulse. And the friend doesn’t have it.  Perhaps because they’ve loaned money before, and been burned. Perhaps they really can’t spare it (you can’t always tell a person’s financial situation by looking at the outside – you don’t know the extent of debt that someone with a nice house, car and other material goods might be coping with).

Or you might think, “But I really want this relationship to work and I just know if I say the right thing, he/she will return my love the way I want them to.”  Again, if the person is not capable of a healthy romantic relationship, you are trying to get something from them that they simply do not have inside to give you! No amount of squeezing, prodding and poking will get you the love you want from a person who can’t love, such as a narcissist who makes everything about them instead of mutual love.

So next time you don’t get the results you want right away when interacting with a friend, coworker, business person or family member, pause and ask yourself: what blood am I trying to squeeze from this turnip… and why?

your happiness guru,

Evelyn Brooks

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