Wayne C. Allen's "Works in Progress"
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The Most Important Step

Several issues ago (link) I wrote about relationships, and proposed the following:

• I can only commit to an action - to something I will do.
• I commit to being in relationship with you. Here is what I commit to:
• I will be open, honest and vulnerable in my daily communication with you.
• I will tell you, today, who I am and what I am thinking.
• I will tell you, today, everything I have done, and what it meant to me.
• I will listen to you with curiosity and interest, today.
• I will accept that you are who you are today, and will integrate who you are today with my picture of you from "yesterday."
• I will make myself fully available and present to and with you, today, and engage in clear and concise communication with you for not less than 30 minutes, today.
• I will own all of my thoughts, feelings, emotions and interpretations, working to take full responsibility for each and every one of them. If I slip and go into blaming, I will stop myself, apologise, and return to self-responsibility.
• I will actively encourage you to listen to me and to actively hold me to the performance of what I have committed to.
• I will commit to all of these things, without any expectation of anything from you, as all I can ever commit to is to what I can and will do.


This Week's Article

• I will make myself fully available and present to and with you, today, and engage in clear and concise communication with you for not less than 30 minutes, today.
• I will own all of my thoughts, feelings, emotions and interpretations, working to take full responsibility for each and every one of them. If I slip and go into blaming, I will stop myself, apologise, and return to self-responsibility.
• I will actively encourage you to listen to me and to actively hold me to the performance of what I have committed to.
• I will commit to all of these things, without any expectation of anything from you, as all I can ever commit to is to what I can and will do.


I've decided to wrap up this series of articles, and begin something new next issue. I think I've made my point – at least the point that is common to this group of ideas –

the only thing in life that I can do,
is what I choose to do.

fingerScrew 'em if they don't worship me

Over the years, I've been struck by the amount of time and effort people put into trying the get others to "love them," or "treat them right." And, over the years, I've never, not once, met someone who successfully changed another person. Oh, I've met people who have cajoled, and bartered, and whined, and griped, and complained, and got their partner to shift something in the moment, but lasting change? Forget it.

People treat each other the way they treat each other. This seems like such an obvious idea. One client I worked with was a couple of years into her 5th dysfunctional relationship. In each case, her partner was the kind of guy who thinks it's his birthright to tell her what to think, how to act, how to dress, and what to do, horizontally and vertically.

She was in therapy to figure out, ever again, why her present man refused to change his ways.

I look at this situation, and it seems clear to me: my client chooses, almost using radar, men who are into "being in charge." There may even be a part of her that likes this – feels safe when in the presence or a strong, forthright man.

After a while, though, the endless criticism wears thin, and she discovers she can't stand constantly being told what to do.

So, in other words, she changes her mind about what she wants in her man. And then, she expects that the man should just go along with her request that he stop doing what he's always done.

Compatibility is a difficult proposition, because our culture is invested in telling us that how we feel, and the way we act, is the result of "good" or "bad" external forces. Therefore, compatibility gets mixed up into, "getting my partner to behave in a compatible (read "my") way."

We suggest that the time for figuring out if someone is compatible with you is at around the second date – as in whether there will be a second date. If I want to be in a relationship between equals, I should notice equality from the start.

My commitment is totally about what I will do, whether in relationship or as I engage with the world. So, if things seem to be "slipping," my responsibility is to state what I observe, and then state what I will do to get things back on track.

My client "ordered up" the men she got. Then, she grew tired of the order, and demanded that the man change. Now, notice that if I told her to change and simply become acquiescent, doing exactly what she was told to do, she'd refuse and say "why should I have to do what he says?"

This is the danger of expecting others and the world to have nothing better to do than to make you happy.

At the end of the day, happiness, like everything else, is an inside job.

Our last series of points are simple and self-responsible. Rather than hold my partner accountable to my whims and desires, I turn it around and hold myself accountable, and then give my partner permission to also hold me accountable. In a sense, I am saying, "Here is how I agree to be and act in our relationship. I will slip from time to time. I intend to catch myself when I slip. If I don't, please remind me."

Now, of course, this will work elegantly only if my partner has made the same agreement with me, and sticks to it.

I would argue, though, that in less than ideal relationships, one person can choose to be accountable to his or her partner, without the requisite agreement in return, and that the person who chooses accountability will be much, much better off than he or she was when all that was happening was blaming.

On the whole, though, I believe that it's better to leave a relationship that is not equal than to live with the imbalance. That's more a personal preference than a hard and fast rule.

2006 is one month old - still time for a resolution. Resolve to live with honesty, integrity, and commitment. Do it for yourself - for your spiritual and bodily well-being. Pick a direction, own it, commit to it, stick to it.

This has been an interesting series to write, and it has helped me to clarify parts of my next book.

If you have a topic you'd like to see me write about, let me know!




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