Inconvenience, and Why Reasonable Seldom is

Synopsis: Inconvenience, and Why Reasonable Seldom is–the things that make relating next to impossible

A couple of weeks ago, the people that manage the condo complex decided to tear down the roof of the Rancho (a covered outdoor space typically used for lounging and eating.) The old roof was made with palm branches, and it was costly to replace, so they decided to put up tile.

Anyhoo, the date was picked, and we all kinda knew through word of mouth.

Then, this notice appeared, tacked to various walls. Dar read right through it, to be sure to read carefully.

inconvieniencePracticing inconvenience

See it?? Cracked me right up.

We will try to inconvenience you as much as possible (if possible!)

Now, of course, the writer might have actually meant “as little as possible,” but that wouldn’t be worthy of an article.

So, today, I want to lightly touch this and one other idea.

I kinda laugh as I recall days of working with couples. Not my favourite thing. And that was because, in 32 years, only a few times did both parties actually want to relate better.

Maybe you’ll find that peculiar. I know I did, initially. Then, I got used to it.

So, if people didn’t want to relate better, to resolve their issues, what did they want?

Why, a pound of flesh, of course! Each, in their own way, was saying, “I want to inconvenience you as much as possible (if possible!).”

Their relationships got screwed up with practice, lots of practice!

On the other hand, the occasional couple showed up just keen to figure things out, and that was fun. It’s actually a simple matter to teach two people to communicate–to make the relationship about resolving issues without compromise.

Just like every other skill you have, it’s a pattern, and, just like your actual job or career, you have to do it all the time, or you go bankrupt. But with motivated couples, the change was almost instantaneous.

The other couples had this in common–they bumped their noses against an issue, and immediately went to defensiveness instead of being self-responsible and talking the issue through.

There are several flavours to defensiveness

Our yoga teacher has the concept of bus-stops. Each pose has several, and you can get off when you choose. It’s the same with defensiveness. Several bus-stops, and people stop when they get their rocks off.

Longer! You haven’t suffocated enough yet!

Blaming–this is the choice for most. Finger-pointing, inability to listen, defensive posture. “Coincidentally, and every time, whatever is wrong is the other person’s fault.

Reasonableness–I knew I was in for a difficult session or six if either or both of my clients said, “I just want him / her to be reasonable!” (Short form, “Be reasonable!”) I’d smile, and say, “finish the sentence,” and would be met with a blank stare. I’d continue, “Don’t you mean, be reasonable and do it my way?” I got a lot of glares with that line.

Viciousness–here’s the home of “inconveniencing,” a mild form of being vicious. Another term for this process is “extracting punishment.”

  • If I know you hate it when I “talk down to you,” I’ll do that, a lot.
  • If I know you hate it when I bring up your past, I’ll live there.
  • If you detest the silent treatment, I’ll take the vow of silence.

Dealing with the self is not popular

So, anyway, I’d make the comment that we were “staring over, now,” and that this and all subsequent issues would be dealt with in the new way. Couples seeking a solution would sigh with relief.

Couples from the other, “inconvenience” group, would say, “But what about all the other stuff? The thing he did 5 years ago, the things she said to my mother 15 years ago?” And get this! They were serious!

I’d say, “You can’t fix what happened in the past. If you want to stay together, you have to let that stuff go, and focus on now.”

Glares and stares. And one woman, in a fit of brutal honesty, said, “But… I’m not done punishing him yet!”

It’s funny. Lots of people think that their job is to “smarten up” their partner, who is “doing it wrong.” Seldom did I hear, “We are going through a rough patch right now, and I would like to learn how to communicate better, and to work on my sense of discomfort.” And on the rare occasions that did happen, it was even rarer for the partner to say the same thing.

In other words, it was rare to see two people, in relationship, want to work on their side of the issues they were confronting. No indeed. What the vast majority wanted was for me to declare them right, their partner wrong, and therefore to blame for the issues they were facing. And when I wouldn’t, I’d be declared to be unreasonable.

You’d think that people would want to fix things, wouldn’t you. Nah.

And then, some couples would even start following the communication model, would sit and talk, and still stay stuck. The part they refused to fix was the blaming. So, they just got better at the mechanics of blaming.

Because, you see, relating well is an individual task. It’s performed by you, for you, in the context of the relationship. As such, it’s totally about “what I can do differently to bring closure to this issue.”

Not a single “you” in the mix. Not a single attempt to compromise, nor to fix, nor to blame. Just “here’s me, and what I choose to do.”

Next time, some methods.

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

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