Somehow, people who are beginning to ‘get’ what I’ve been writing about (and by ‘get’ I mean understand, and are starting to put it in place) still have trouble with enacting all of this in their relationships.
In other words, there’s nothing particularly complicated about this Zen-ish approach—other than in the application.
I was just ‘Skyping’ a friend and we were talking about this very issue. I wrote:
Let’s see how this fits in.
Flaws in Self-Examination
Many people use self-examination as a tool for judging others. I see this all the time in relationship counselling, and also get it whenever we’re talking about work or friendship situations. Let me first describe the ideal, and then the ‘gotchas.’
Notice that the common ideas are:
“My boss came in, and she was upset and angry over a project.”
“so I asked my boss specifically what she needed, and then I got it for her. I then went back to what I was doing.”
The rest of it is non-present, unnecessary, self-created drama.
The Intimate Relationship Two-Step
In intimate relationships, the same three possibilities apply.
Most people who are in relationship trouble, say 85%, use the ‘other-loathing’ side of things. I am endlessly impressed with how good they are at making the other the guilty party, while they remain the ‘injured party.’ This fits with our conditioning, which causes us, first and foremost, to look outside of ourselves for who we are, what we should do, and also to locate the ‘enemy at our gate.’ This approach, however, can have but one outcome—isolation, guardedness, and misery.
Finger pointing and blaming leads to… you guessed it, finger pointing and blaming, as well as defensiveness. Getting hooked on one’s partner’s provocation leads to fights. Pure and simple.
Now, this is where clients say, “But if I don’t stand up for myself, he’ll walk all over me.” And Helen Reddy starts singing “I am Woman” in the background.
Standing up for yourself always leads to fights, the silent treatment, and a worse relationship.
Self-loathing is practiced by the other 15% of dysfunctional communicators. In this one, the person is endlessly blaming himself for all of the problems, with the resultant behaviour of apologizing, sulking, and again, nothing changes.
Our approach is simple in concept. No matter what situation I am in, the only part of it I can do anything about is my part. I never have been able to see how wimping out or blaming others or trying to ‘guilt’ another (“You know how upset your frustration makes me…”) is a sign of anything other than weakness. Strong people are self-responsible people—they never lay their experience at the feet of others.
Have a look at your ‘relationship style.’ See who you blame. See what happens if you deal with yourself and only yourself—by doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t. Remind yourself of what you are doing, as we suggested last article, by naming your game: “Blaming, blaming,” or “Beating up on myself…” Then, let go of the judgement, and be how you choose to be.
Your life is always and only about how you see it, judge it, and enact it. Until you get this, and actually live it, you are doomed to what your have. Get this, and everything changes, because you have changed the only thing that matters—your perceptions and behaviours.
About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press