I’m reading everything I can find on the subject.
This is my modus operandi, my High Performance Work Pattern, my number one signature strength. When I want to learn something new, I gather information like a fiend. I ask all kinds of experts, and read all kinds of books.
Sometimes the search, the gathering of information, goes on for years. But on this subject, I’m stopping right here, right now. It’s not that I don’t have more to learn. It’s that I’ve found a book so rich, so thought-provoking, that I want to linger in it. I want to try every exercise.
The book is Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment. The subtitle: A Way to Be Fully Together without Giving Up Yourself. It was published by a psychologist and a psychotherapist who have worked with over a thousand clients and workshop participants on relationships.
One of the first things that appealed to me is that this book describes how to achieve a relationship that is the opposite of co-dependence. Co-dependence can be described as an unhealthy, unequal relationship in which one person puts a lower priority on his/her own needs, while being excessively preoccupied by the needs of others. When we are co-dependent, “we don’t have relationships, we have entanglements”, described as “an unconscious conspiracy between two or more people to feel bad and to limit each other’s potential.”
The co-committed relationship described in this book is when “people support each other in being whole, complete individuals.” And here’s the payoff: “Out of the harmony of a co-committed relationship springs an enhanced energy that enables both partners to make a greater contribution than either one could have made alone.”
Pretty much everyone I know, including me, has some level of dysfunction in their past. It inevitably emerges and impacts a relationship. We have trust issues, authority issues, self-esteem issues. We withhold, withdraw, project. Our past impacts our present in ways we often don’t recognize.
How do we work through all those issues to get to healthy relationships (including a healthy relationship with ourselves)?
Here are the books three fundamental requirements:
1) Feel All Your Feelings. I love this one. If you’ve watched Brene Brown’s Ted Talk on Vulnerability you know that we only have one knob on our feelings. If we numb ourselves to pain, we also numb ourselves to joy. Let’s feel all our feelings. Let’s notice them. Let’s listen to them. And when appropriate, let’s act on them.
2) Tell the Microscopic Truth. This is harder. This means communicating the feelings we might just be learning how to feel. It means speaking about ourselves rather than projecting feelings onto another. Imagine if, instead of saying, “You don’t even think of me when you make plans,” saying instead: “When you said you were going away for the weekend, I felt a tight band of constriction in my chest and a bunch of thoughts flew through my mind like ‘She’s abandoning me’ and ‘What’ll I do all by myself?’”
3) Keep Your Agreements. This seems obvious. Of course, it is harder to do than it is to write. But every broken agreement, takes away from our aliveness, our connectedness.
Let’s love consciously, whether it is our partner, our friend, our colleague or ourselves. Let’s feel our feelings, tell the microscopic truth, and keep our agreements. Let’s turn our relationships into the very best they can be.
Copyright © 2013 Marcia Davis-Cannon