Did you come across this blog and you’re already in a relationship? Didn’t do a “wants list” or really have any clear criteria when you started? Just the typical training you get in life: “there has to be chemistry”, “you’ll know it when you find it”, “if your standards are too high, you’ll never find someone”, “’good enough’ is good enough”, “the passion doesn’t last, the friendship does”?
And if that’s you and you’re asking: “what if I still want to KEEP this relationship, even if it’s not perfect, even if we still fight and feel angry or frustrated or hurt by each other sometimes? What can I/we do then?”
Here are some things you can do to give your relationship a great, joyous shot-in-the-arm, not just to re-kindle what you had, but also, in fact, to take you to levels you’ve NEVER had before and probably never thought you COULD have!
If you’ve read the beginning posts in our blog, you’ve seen that the very first thing I suggest is to write a “wants list”. (If you have not read this post yet, check it out here: http://www.tinyurl.com/wants-list ). So you’re probably thinking, okay, well, that’s no good to me now, since I’m already in this relationship. No way! Now is a GREAT time to do a wants list and I’ll tell you why! One of the hallmarks of a great, open, loving relationship is being able to talk about anything and ASK for anything, while learning to be totally comfortable if your partner says “no” to your want. And the only way to know what to ask for is to know what you WANT. So go ahead and make a wants list using the instructions in the blog post above. Once that’s complete, compare, WITHOUT JUDGMENT, your wants list to the attributes of your partner. Note the things that are on your wants list that you don’t feel you get in your partner at this time, again, without judgment. Now set this aside for an activity we’ll talk about later.
Now it’s time for a little discussion about arguments. Why do we have arguments? Arguments stem from FEAR. Anger and frustration are an outward expression of an inner fear. We use them because we have been taught, basically from birth, that they WORK to help you get what you want. In reality, this doesn’t work. While you may win an argument temporarily by using this, it actually has two outcomes: 1) the other person complies but resents you, which will lead to FURTHER issues, or 2) the person simply waits until later to do what you did not want them to, again leading to FURTHER issues. Anger is used as a method of force (it’s actually IMAGINED force) to gain control (IMAGINED control) to prevent you from your FEAR coming true. What are the components of fear? Fear is basically one of two things: 1) fear of LOSING something you already have, or 2) fear of NOT GETTING something you “need”. You might say it’s fear of not getting something you “want”, but if you are feeling fear over it, then it’s a “need” to you and not a “want”. Here’s the difference: a “want” is something you want, but you will NOT be unhappy if you don’t get it. A “need” is something that, if you don’t get it, you will be UNHAPPY. Whenever you see me using these words, these are the definitions for how I’m using them. So if you look at the dynamic how I’ve set it up, there is an interesting thing that you’ll see. The ONLY person who actually controls your fear is YOU! If fear was universal or “hard wired”, then EVERYONE would be afraid of the exact same things! Since lots of people are afraid of, say, sharks, while others go and intentionally swim with them, fear MUST be governed by each person individually. If that’s true, then your fear belongs to you, and can be changed at any time! How does this apply to arguments? Because you can use your anger and frustration to, instead of blaming the other person, track back to yourself to uncover the FEAR that is causing your own anger!
How does this work in real life? Let’s use an example from my own life. I was housesitting on Vashon Island off the coast of Seattle, Washington. Now for this job, I was not originally going to have access to the two cars of the owner, but I negotiated with her to allow me to use the two cars. During my 7 weeks there, my family came to visit, and I let them use one of the cars while I used the other. There came a moment when the “family” car was already in use, and my sister-in-law, Rachel wanted to take the other car. I said no, I have to have it available in case I wanted to go somewhere. I didn’t tell her that the “somewhere” was a possible date with a woman from the area who I was waiting to hear back from. She said well they’re not your cars, you don’t OWN them. At this moment I got angry (wow, this is SUCH a rarity for me, I literally can count on the fingers of one hand the number of times I’ve been angry in the last 5 years—and I remember each time very clearly!). I said with righteous indignation: we wouldn’t be able to use EITHER car if it wasn’t for me! Okay, so here’s the dynamic so you can clearly see how this works: first comes my fear (I won’t be able to go on the date without a car—this is fear of NOT getting something I “need”), followed by anger in an attempt to use it to get what I need (the car to use). Which didn’t work, because she just got angrier also and got backed up by others in the room. This is why the power of anger is an ILLUSION. We use it because we feel powerLESS and are trying to gain it back! So at this moment I became aware of my anger and put to use the tools that have been so powerful for me the last 5 years. I followed the anger and tracked it back to my own fear. NONE of my anger was about Rachel, it was all about ME. Once I identified my fear of missing out on the date, it was EASY to let it go, because clearly there would be another time for a date if that’s what this woman wanted. The INSTANT I let go of the fear, the anger vanished, and I told Rachel in complete comfort and with a genuine smile: the car is yours as long as you want!
Tomorrow I will explain in detail how you can use this new found knowledge within your relationship!