Forgive me for grabbing your attention with a foul metaphor (smile). While you are likely familiar with the saying, thankfully I’m going in a different direction. Many times in life we can get so caught up in what other people are doing to us, how unfair they are and how insensitive they can be to our own needs and wants. Yet, it is easy to forget about our involvement in the equations. Your life, my life, is really about being the best version of ourselves. It’s about choosing our own thoughts and actions and taking full ownership of our lives because ultimately, he who smelt it probably dealt it!
Have you ever stopped to consider that you play a key role in every relationship you have, be it foul (there it is again) or fair? The one constant in every relationship you have is you. When you find yourself confronted with the same challenges or the same unwanted judgments or the same faulty conclusions about who you are, maybe it’s not because the people you deal with are all idiots (been there), but rather because of what you are giving off. Maybe, just maybe you are sending a consistent message, accurate or not, about yourself that isn’t really true. Perhaps you have been so accustomed to playing a specific role with others that you are loathe to let it go, even if you don’t enjoy the results thereof. Many of us become familiar with a certain performance we put on for others; one they faithfully enjoy and demand, that leads people to a false understanding about who we are. The world is not always a nice place and its inhabitants not always offering us the benefit of the doubt. It’s not easy to be authentic in our interactions and in so doing we set up circumstances and conditions we do not like. The first requirement in building lasting relationships is to be an authentic person.
In a relationship, it is incredibly easy to hone in and discern the faults of others. Whether it be mild annoyances or full on agitation, it is suprisingly effortless to figure out things about other people you do not like. But, sadly perhaps, it is very difficult to recognize the things we do that others may not like. That’s not to say we should mold and shape our character to meet the demands of others, but rather that we should become humble enough to admit we’ve also got some unpleasant bits. Maybe we aren’t as funny as we think? Maybe they should know we mean no harm, but after they have told us otherwise a hundred times, we should have perhaps gotten the message by now. There are, it seems, certain people that have the capacity to drive you nuts! They have found your buttons and joy exceedingly in pressing them. But, have you ever considered that maybe before they sent you a message, you already sent them one? Sometimes your tone of voice, your facial expressions, your approach, already communicated your thoughts about them being a moron and in like manner they have rightfully perhaps decided to assault you back. Naturally you are aghast at their behavior, yet cannot conceive you began the conflict yourself. In relationships it makes sense to pride yourself in being altruistic, but often, imperceptibly, we may be the one that needs to make a change.
In marriages or lasting relationships, couples often spend a lifetime wishing their partner would only listen to what they are telling them and change, yet refuse on the grounds of principle to change themselves. Or they dutifully carry a lifetime of assumed responses based upon “knowing their significant other” without really knowing them at all. How could they know them after deciding 20 years ago exactly who they are? Bitter, long since burned out couples, could not hear a good thing from their partner if it slapped them in their face! They have already concluded and in so doing have already closed the door to change. The other person can scarce bring up a topic without their spouse already knowing where they are heading requiring them to head it off at the pass. Bad realtionships are seldom not formed by the actions of the present but rather on the thousandfold actions of the past. No couple can honestly survive such closed-mindedness! The answer isn’t found in the other person, it is found in yourself! Someone has to stop the madness and it may as well be you. So, you find yourself divorced and finally living out your dreams, yet never considered that you might be treating your “new” person in all the ways your “old” person would have loved. You gave your new person a chance…
What you should you do when you find yourself in such a dilemma? Stop assigning responsibility for the relationship to the other person because the responsibility rests with you. You change you! You be the best you, you can be. You give the love first. You decide to be sweet, loving and kind. You decide to listen and really hear the messages with your heart. You’d be surprised what can change when you change. You may find out the person whose faults you have been faithfully cataloging for years has qualities you never before imagined. You might just discover true love, not based on endless expectations, but rather on your decision to love first. You may at last recognize the love you have been searching for a lifetime is right there waiting for you and has been all along. Take ownership of yourself first and in so doing stop making it always about them. Sure they will still have faults and failings and blind spots, but criticism never ever cured them, only love can.
Whether your relationship is a marriage or dating or people you work with or your family members, the success of them all is first dependent upon you and the hidden messages you are transmitting to them. Seek to change the only thing you can change – you! Becausee two people are involved it may not always work out no matter what you do. But, at least you will have done your honest best. Remember, usually, he who smelt it probably dealt it!
Just some good thoughts…