On Being Right II

Hav­ing trou­ble in your rela­tion­ship?  Here are three sug­ges­tions how to get it going again.

1.  Give up your right to be right.

It feels sooo good to be right!  I do not know a sin­gle per­son who does not enjoy it. It makes us smart, intu­itive, more respected and liked. Right? Not really. Espe­cially in our rela­tion­ship, when we insist on being right, fight over an issue, try to prove our­selves, look for approval, and behave aggres­sively. In fact, when we try to be right we make it impos­si­ble to have a con­ver­sa­tion. We can’t really talk to each other, and there­fore, we can’t be in a relationship.

How many rela­tion­ships do you know that have fallen apart due to one person’s unwill­ing­ness to give up the right to be right? You may even say: “But he/she was right. It’s the fact. I know it”. But it really comes down to a mat­ter of pri­or­i­ties. What is your pri­or­ity when it comes to a dis­agree­ment; to be right and dam­age your rela­tion­ship, or to really com­mu­ni­cate and help your rela­tion­ship flourish?

Giv­ing up your right to be right does not mean that you are going to let any­one abuse you in any way. It just means allow­ing the other per­son to have their point of view, which you are will­ing to con­sider, or agree to disagree.

If you are right, then you make the other per­son WRONG. No one likes to be wrong.  It would be much smarter to lis­ten to the other per­son and rec­og­nize what works with their point of view instead of what does not.

2.  Lis­ten

Most of us pre­fer to be heard, to say what we want to say, to express our­selves, to get our point across. What would it look like if all of us would do that all the time out loud? There would be no one to lis­ten. Every­one would be talk­ing. In fact, this is exactly what is hap­pen­ing all the time, except that we are talk­ing to our­selves while pre­tend­ing to lis­ten. We even pre­tend with our body lan­guage to lis­ten when instead we are judg­ing and assess­ing, eval­u­at­ing, think­ing about what we would say next, think­ing about some­thing entirely dif­fer­ent, or just sim­ply check­ing out. We have so much invested in what we think that we actu­ally believe that our own real­ity is the only valid and the right one, that only our inter­pre­ta­tions and mean­ings are real, good, right and true. We do not even try to con­sider other peo­ples views. We just com­pare them with our own views. If they match, then they are right.  If they don’t, then they are wrong. What’s more, we have fixed expec­ta­tions about what we will hear from the other per­son – espe­cially the ones close to us –that we have already decided about it. We hear what we want to hear and NOT what’s being said. What are the chances of the other per­son say­ing some­thing dif­fer­ent and actu­ally being heard? As far as you are con­cerned, the chances are prob­a­bly nonexistent.

Con­sider how your rela­tion­ship, and in fact your life, would change if you were to lis­ten to the other per­son as if they may have some­thing cru­cially impor­tant to com­mu­ni­cate to you. What if you could actu­ally learn some­thing extra­or­di­nary if you only lis­tened with­out all the thoughts that fill your mind? You might actu­ally hear some­thing. You might even dis­cover some­thing won­der­ful and new about the other per­son that would be so sur­pris­ing to you, and your whole rela­tion­ship might shift. We were not given two ears and one mouth for noth­ing. Just con­sider that.  Try it out. Your rela­tion­ship will improve by leaps and bounds.

3.  Be vulnerable

Both of the above skills require you to let your guard down. By talk­ing and being right we think we are assert­ing our­selves. Instead what is really hap­pen­ing is that our ego takes con­trol.  Our ego has only one agenda: to be right in order to sur­vive. We are still dri­ven by the neces­sity to sur­vive a saber-tooth tiger, but our lower brain with thou­sands of years pro­gram­ming does not dis­tin­guish between a saber-tooth tiger and a sim­ple con­ver­sa­tion. In for both cases adren­a­lin kicks in. So, every con­ver­sa­tion auto­mat­i­cally becomes a sur­vival sit­u­a­tion for us. The only thing that will save us from this self-destructive behav­ior, is to use our abil­ity to self-reflect and become highly self-aware, to observe our thoughts, feel­ings and actions. In other words, ask your­self a ques­tion: What the hell am I doing? Am I under­min­ing my rela­tion­ship and my hap­pi­ness by try­ing to sur­vive? Sur­vive WHAT? My recommendation…learn to be vul­ner­a­ble. There is really noth­ing to sur­vive. The only way to have a great rela­tion­ship is to let your guard down and be vul­ner­a­ble. Besides, being vul­ner­a­ble is very charm­ing and attrac­tive.  Try it!

Aware­ness exercise:

•    How impor­tant to you is it to be right in a con­ver­sa­tion?  (scale of 1 to 10)
•    Think of some past con­ver­sa­tion that has dam­aged your rela­tion­ship. Was it worth it?
•    Pay atten­tion to what goes on in your mind when you are lis­ten­ing to some­one talk­ing, espe­cially when you have some­thing invested in the out­come.
•    Notice your feel­ings when you think you are in a vul­ner­a­ble position.

Radomir

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/

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Ego In A Relationship

ego |ˈēgō|
noun ( pl. egos)
a person’s sense of self-esteem or self-importance

I am not a psy­chol­o­gist, so I’m not going to go in depth about all the facets of ego, super ego, etc. For the pur­poses of this arti­cle, I will con­cen­trate on the above def­i­n­i­tion and what it means for rela­tion­ships. In this “new age” we often hear that in order to be spir­i­tu­ally and even morally and eth­i­cally advanced we must shed our ego because it is some­how in our way. Hav­ing an ego, or a large ego (what­ever that means), in our mod­ern cul­ture is a bad thing. Noth­ing can be fur­ther from the truth.

Ego is not only indis­pens­able – you can­not get rid of it because it is part of your per­son­al­ity – but also very nec­es­sary in order to have, as it says above, a sense of self. Now, we can talk about a healthy or unhealthy, bal­anced or unbal­anced ego. Where in our rela­tion­ship does this ego, or sense-of-self, come into play? A per­son who has low self-esteem is prone to being a vic­tim, depressed, a drug addict, an alco­holic, etc. The other man­i­fes­ta­tion for low self esteem (the self-importance part) is when one’s ego is arti­fi­cially boosted, which usu­ally hap­pens in order to com­pen­sate for some short­com­ing. These peo­ple hav­ing a low self-esteem will do any­thing to mask it, hide it, pre­tend that they have high self-esteem and try to con­vince oth­ers of the same. They develop their own kind of sur­vival strat­egy doing oppo­site of the ones who acknowl­edge it and exhibit their depres­sion, vic­tim­hood and other short­com­ings, by being overly ambi­tious and very suc­cess­ful (which doesn’t nec­es­sar­ily make them happy), or become bul­lies, abusers, right­eous fanat­ics, or even crim­i­nals. Exhib­ited low self-esteem and con­versely exag­ger­ated self-importance are detri­ment to one’s grasp of real­ity, thus cre­at­ing a dis­cord between their own per­cep­tion of them­selves and that of others.

Curi­ously enough, our cul­ture treats low self-esteem as nor­mal, espe­cially if our behav­ior com­pen­sates for it; in other words if we pre­tend well oth­ers buy into it. In my prac­tice I have never met a per­son with gen­uinely high self-esteem. Peo­ple with “very high self-esteem” and grandiose think­ing are con­sid­ered to have delu­sional dis­or­ders (isn’t low-self esteem delu­sional as well?), and are usu­ally put into insti­tu­tions under the guise of Napoleons and Cleopa­tras. Those who do not end up in a men­tal insti­tu­tion become so-called great lead­ers such as Idi Amin, Hitler, Stalin, Napoleon, and … you name it.

All these ego imbal­ances have con­se­quences and they show the most with those we are clos­est to in our rela­tion­ships. As you can see, main­tain­ing a healthy and bal­anced ego is of the utmost impor­tance if one is going to main­tain a happy rela­tion­ship. Med­i­tat­ing and hav­ing some kind of spir­i­tual prac­tice, doing yoga, exer­cis­ing etc., is all very well and they should not be neglected, but neglect­ing aware­ness about who you are, how you occur to oth­ers, hav­ing your bound­aries, pre­cisely defined val­ues, ethics, being in integrity and aware what you tol­er­ate (where you are out of integrity), in other words, with­out keep­ing your ego healthy and in bal­ance, hap­pi­ness and suc­cess­ful rela­tion­ships will always be out of your reach. (Remem­ber, you choose your part­ners too.)

Hav­ing a healthy ego means hav­ing a strong sense of self as sep­a­rate from oth­ers. Hav­ing clear bound­aries and dis­tinc­tions between our own feel­ings, thoughts, needs and desires and those of oth­ers, and also being respon­si­ble for what’s our own.

I may be delu­sional, but I think this arti­cle is great! Of course I am never good enough, but that’s another story. :>)

Man­i­fest your best.

Radomir

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/

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Responsibility In Relationships II

What respon­si­bil­ity means in a rela­tion­ship and how we avoid being respon­si­ble unbe­knownst to us. In The Rela­tion­ship Saver and else­where I men­tioned that the only effec­tive way to be respon­si­ble is to take 100% respon­si­bil­ity for your rela­tion­ship. How do you know if you are not being 100% respon­si­ble? Well, there are a few behav­iors that once you rec­og­nize them they will give you a pretty good idea of how respon­si­ble you are. In the coach­ing com­mu­nity we call it RACKETS. What it means is that we pre­tend we are doing the right thing when in fact there is a much more insid­i­ous rea­son for our action:  avoid­ing respon­si­bil­ity at all costs.

And the costs are high. But first, let’s see what a racket is and deal with what we get out of what is called “run­ning a racket.” The def­i­n­i­tion of a racket is: A fixed way of being plus a per­sis­tent complaint.

What is it that you do and what do you get out of run­ning a racket?
–    You are right and your part­ner is wrong.
Read the arti­cle “On Being Right”
–    You try to dom­i­nate or avoid dom­i­na­tion of a sit­u­a­tion or your part­ner.
This may include pres­sure, bul­ly­ing, insist­ing on your point of view, all sub­tle passive/aggressive behav­iors, etc., as well as the “don’t tell me what to do” syn­drome, even avoid­ing the dom­i­na­tion of your own promises. (Read the arti­cle on Integrity In Rela­tion­ships)
–    Your actions are always jus­ti­fied (by you, of course) and your partner’s actions and/or opin­ions are by default inval­i­dated.
We judge oth­ers by their actions. We judge our­selves by our inten­tions.
In short, what we get out of run­ning a racket is avoid respon­si­bil­ity and by default lose power.

You may notice that for most peo­ple this is a default behav­ior, we do not know any dif­fer­ent. But, the big ques­tion is: are we aware of the COST? Do you know what the costs are? I bet you don’t — these are very obvi­ous so here they are:
–    Love and inti­macy
Love starts with com­plete accep­tance of your part­ner (read the arti­cle on Love In Rela­tion­ships in this blog) and inti­macy is free­dom and the abil­ity to safely com­mu­ni­cate what­ever you are present to at the moment
–    Full self-expression
This means being free to be your­self at your best with­out hav­ing to jus­tify, defend, sur­vive, or in any way com­pro­mise your integrity (read the arti­cle on Integrity In Rela­tion­ships)
–    Health and vital­ity
You know how you feel when your rela­tion­ship isn’t work­ing. It can lit­er­ally make you sick. Depres­sion is another option. Vital­ity is nonexistent.

And now that you know what it costs you to run a racket you may try to become more aware of what comes out of your mouth pre­ceded by your thoughts. In order to become aware here is how to rec­og­nize if you are run­ning a racket or not:  When­ever you are frus­trated or upset and that state of mind is famil­iar to you, you think, “it always hap­pens,” you may be sure that you are run­ning a racket.

Run­ning a racket and thus pass­ing on the respon­si­bil­ity to oth­ers, cir­cum­stances and/or the envi­ron­ment is the best way to lose power and con­trol of your life and a say-so in your relationship.

Please also note that run­ning a racket is an instinc­tual, knee-jerk reac­tion and totally counter-intuitive. Nev­er­the­less, it is a nec­es­sary com­po­nent of your hap­pi­ness in a happy and game­less rela­tion­ship to be prac­ticed on a moment-to-moment basis until it becomes your sec­ond nature and you can stop a racket in its tracks, even before it man­i­fests itself in lan­guage and behavior.

Absence of rack­ets in your life guar­an­tees hap­pier per­sonal life, stronger rela­tion­ships, huge leaps for­ward in your per­sonal devel­op­ment and valu­able con­tri­bu­tion to others.

Love

Radomir

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/



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Selfishness And Sacrifice In A Relationship

My daughter’s friend Edan asked me to write a blog entry with the title theme. So here it is. These ques­tions often arise in a rela­tion­ship. Am I being too self­ish, or should I be more self­ish? Or, what do I sac­ri­fice in this rela­tion­ship and should I?

When­ever you ask one of these or sim­i­lar ques­tions, you may be sure that your rela­tion­ship needs some work. When I say that your rela­tion­ship needs work what that usu­ally means that it is you who needs to sort some things out for your­self, like what are you afraid of, are you being abused in any way, are you clear on your val­ues, what do you tol­er­ate and what are your bound­aries. You may not even be famil­iar with what these terms really mean, let alone being aware of them in a time of dis­agree­ment and conflict.

If you want to have a suc­cess­ful rela­tion­ship, you must start with your­self and take care of your­self first. Being self­ish in that way is not only okay, but also nec­es­sary for a healthy rela­tion­ship. Sac­ri­fic­ing your own hap­pi­ness to make your part­ner happy is NOT the way to go. Sac­ri­fic­ing any­thing means dimin­ish­ing your­self in some way; the ulti­mate being your life. How can you make any­one happy by sac­ri­fic­ing your­self? Your hap­pi­ness comes first. If you think that is self­ish, so be it, be self­ish. It works the other way round too; to be happy at some­one else’s expense does not work either. You must have no regrets at any time; oth­er­wise, it is very easy to fall into a blam­ing game. This is an integrity issue. See the post Integrity In Rela­tion­ships.

Regret­ting some­thing means that you have sac­ri­ficed some­thing. Now, there is an impor­tant point to under­stand here: you must be able to take 100% respon­si­bil­ity for what­ever hap­pens to you. (Notice that I did not say blame, fault, shame or guilt.) Respon­si­bil­ity is to be able to respond appro­pri­ately. You may not be respon­si­ble for what hap­pens out there; although if you look deep enough it may have some­thing to do with you, after all. It takes two to tango – you do have a choice how to inter­pret an event and what you make it mean. See the post in this blog The Mean­ing And Real­ity.

In The Game­less Rela­tion­ship http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/ I explain in detail the 4 prin­ci­ples of a per­fect rela­tion­ship. If you take a lit­tle time to read it, it will explain in detail the dif­fer­ence between “me, me, me” vs. “us” and that sac­ri­fice has no place in a happy relationship.

Be happy!

Radomir

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/

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Relationships On Automatic

Yes­ter­day we went to see the movie 500 Days of Sum­mer. It was a love story, a rela­tion­ship story, which left me very unset­tled and frus­trated. As I was leav­ing the the­ater I kept ask­ing myself, what was it that was mak­ing me so uncom­fort­able, even angry? Since anger almost always comes from loss of power, I started search­ing for the source of the pow­er­less­ness that I felt.  Then it dawned on me that the char­ac­ters in the movie had no con­trol over their feel­ings and actions and they did not know why or how things were hap­pen­ing to them. Obvi­ously I was iden­ti­fy­ing with the male char­ac­ter in the movie. Both of them were like leaves in the wind of life. It all was very real. I bet that the screen­writ­ers Scott Neustadter and Michael H. Weber must have had sim­i­lar expe­ri­ences to be able to make a movie this powerful.

Such behav­iors which are com­pletely auto­matic, with which we are so force­fully genet­i­cally pro­grammed that we are pow­er­less when faced with it, are preva­lent in humans and although they may be counter pro­duc­tive in today’s soci­ety, they pos­i­tively rule our lives.  In order to start solv­ing a prob­lem, one must first cor­rectly iden­tify the core of the prob­lem. So, this led me to the ques­tion: “If I had to choose one thing that dri­ves each gen­der what would it be?”

From all my expe­ri­ence with peo­ple’ s rela­tion­ships, as well as my own, I came to the con­clu­sion that the bot­tom line rea­son for female behav­iors is SURVIVAL and for males it is CONTROL. Many peo­ple would say that feel­ings are what drive women, and power and sta­tus are what drive men, but both boil down to sur­vival and con­trol. This totally makes sense when you con­sider that women are directly respon­si­ble for the sur­vival of the species and that “self­ish gene.” On the other hand, man’s duty is to pro­tect and ensure that their “self­ish gene” will sur­vive too and the best way to do that is to make some sense and order and take con­trol of this world.

So is there any­thing we can do about it? Yes, I think so and that is to stop resist­ing our nat­ural devel­op­ment, EVOLUTION. We must evolve in order to sur­vive. By evolv­ing I mean adapt­ing to the ever-growing com­plex­ity of the prob­lems we face.  Here we are again, hav­ing to iden­tify a prob­lem before we can tackle it. So, In order to over­come our thou­sands of years of pro­gram­ming we must repro­gram our genetic infor­ma­tion and bring it up to date.  (Sci­en­tists are find­ing that it is not only pos­si­ble but that is nat­u­rally hap­pen­ing all the time from gen­er­a­tion to gen­er­a­tion. Our actions and behav­iors today will impact gen­er­a­tions to come.) The first step is to stop resist­ing it and argu­ing against it and become aware and present to its power over us, dis­tin­guish it as such, as often out­dated auto­matic behav­ior and bring our free choice into play. Are we ready for it? Some are and some are not. Only the future will tell.  So, go and see the movie and try to look at it through the lens of sur­vival and con­trol for woman and man respectively.

Radomir

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/


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On Looking Good

If there is one drive that all humans have apart from their sex­ual drive, it must be the desire to look good. By look­ing good I don’t mean just visu­ally but also intel­lec­tu­ally. What con­sti­tutes look­ing good varies from per­son to per­son. The com­mon denom­i­na­tor prob­a­bly is avoid­ing not being good enough. In all these years of coach­ing peo­ple I have never come across a sin­gle per­son who deep inside truly thought that he is good enough. This, of course, applies to women too. Appear­ance is every­thing. What will oth­ers think about you? Do you come across as stu­pid, incom­pe­tent, not lov­able, too old or too young, not sexy enough, not beau­ti­ful, rich, respected, well dressed enough? The list goes on. Pick your own rea­sons as to why and in which area you think you are not good enough. So now you may think what has that got to do with rela­tion­ships. Maybe you already have an inkling.

But first let’s quickly sum­ma­rize where this deep “know­ing” of some­thing being wrong with us comes from. It comes from our beliefs, which are mostly formed before our age of seven or so. Some­thing kept hap­pen­ing and we inter­preted it as if it was our fault, and if only we were some­how dif­fer­ent that would not have been hap­pen­ing. Well, with­out our know­ing it we could not have inter­preted it any other way because up to that age we are very self-centered and we are not able to see the world as sep­a­rate from us.

Then we become adults and for­get about the source of the deci­sions we made when we were five and keep believ­ing that that’s who we are — sad, but true. Now all the rest of our lives we try to com­pen­sate for our not being “good enough” by prov­ing that we are, pre­tend­ing, and try­ing to appear as good enough by doing every­thing to be attrac­tive, loved, respected, accepted, approved of, etc. In other words, we are imple­ment­ing our “sur­vival strat­egy,” not being aware that we do not need one in the first place. The orig­i­nal con­clu­sion, of which we for­got the source, was faulty and for the rest of our lives we are try­ing to cor­rect a nonex­is­tent wrong.

This is where the notion of love comes in. You can­not love any­one if you do not love your­self first, it is said. In other words, how can you sat­isfy one of the basic com­po­nents in your rela­tion­ship, i.e., to love your part­ner, if your focus is on look­ing good and pre­tend­ing to be some­one you are not, which is bound to come out in almost all the con­ver­sa­tions and espe­cially the ones where you are not in agree­ment with your partner.

So, now, start notic­ing when you are not being “you”, but some­one who you think you “should” be. How often do you still try to meet some­one else’s expec­ta­tions (like your father’s or your mother’s)? How often you feel uncom­fort­able because you “must” look good. You see, the whole life is one big med­i­ta­tion, being aware where you pre­tend and by pre­tend­ing you squan­der a chance of plea­sure to be authen­tic, your true self. This is who your part­ner or spouse want you to be – just you. Don’t you?

http://www.RelationshipSaver.org/

http://www.GamelessRelationship.com/


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