By Joeel A. Rivera, M.Ed.
So are you truly committed? And if you are, to what are you committed? Is it a commitment that you say or is it a commitment that you do? Overall, commitment is one of the most important keys to creating what you want in life (and relationships) and what I’m talking about here specifically is a commitment to being real!
The biggest obstacle that anyone has in a relationship, whether it is with a significant other, family member, friends, or yourself, is the resistance to being REAL. Yes, even if you’re committed to something it is ineffective if you’re not being real. Let me explain.
In society we’re told not to burn our bridges. However, at times in life it is okay to burn bridges. In fact, you usually cannot commit to something if you’re unwilling to burn a bridge. You see, keeping a bridge intact can mean leaving an undesirable option open. This can create problems because even a negative option can be tempting and draw you back if it offers comfort. It’s very easy to choose comfort over that which you truly want! How can you commit to something, truly, if you’re leaving escape routes open back to old patterns, comfortable habits, and what you “know”? This applies to relationships, life changes, quitting bad habits, etc.
True commitment is essential for a relationship that nurtures us and helps us grow to our fullest potential or for building the life that we truly desire. Commitment that is not authentic doesn’t work.
If you’re not honest with yourself, no commitment will work. Being real includes letting go of fear of conflict or confrontation. To be genuine may not always be pleasant, but that doesn’t mean it’s about always calling people out or looking to have an argument. Being real is about YOU—your openness to truly step outside of yourself and look at a situation. It’s learning to separate your emotions from those of others, it’s being willing to look at your reality for what it really is, and it’s defining what you truly want and do not want.
For example (and I see this all the time with relationships): people will tell me that their partner is really a great, heart-centered person who is committed to the relationship, but yet they give countless examples of how the person is not dependable, manipulates situations, creates drama, is not there in times of need, is continuously hurtful some way or another, and always puts themselves first. Yet, in the same sentence people will invariably tell me that these negative qualities are not truly who their partner is. So, who is your partner then? And who are you? It is great to see the best in people, but we have to be able to see people and situations, respectively, for who and what they truly are. Moreover, if others in your life do things consistently, it actually may be a reflection of who they really are.
In the bigger picture, a people’s words are insignificant compared to their actions. Sorry to say, but this includes you. If you say that you want more happiness in your life or a better relationship, do you actually take the time to learn what you can do to create it? More importantly, after you learn it do you actually DO it? There has been rapid growth of accessibility to content—books, videos, articles, etc.—that offer tools for every aspect of life, including happiness, relationships, spirituality, business and more. Statistically speaking, however, people who follow these paths to learning do not actually see improvement in life. Why? Simply put, many people like the concept of change and growth but few actually are committed enough to follow through with the advice and put it into action.
It is not about how many books you read, it’s about the follow through and implementation of what you have learned.
With that said, I want to share with you some basic things that you can do to improve your life and relationships. Before you start reading, ask yourself: “Am I committed to following through?” Then, ask yourself if you’re truly “real” in your perspectives on your life and relationships. Are both you and your partner truly committed to making the relationship a haven of understanding through open communication, mutual purpose, passion and genuine growth? There are plenty of cases where both people are committed and actually have a great relationship, but they do not take the necessary steps to maintain it due to busy schedules, external and internal stress, lack of knowledge, and other distracting factors in their lives (often times the latter being unburned bridges).
Each partner will grow throughout his or her life, and you are either growing together or growing apart. Below are three basic things you can do to help ensure you both grow together.
1. Sit down separately, without looking at each other’s paper, and write down 10 things that make you happy (just one word for each). For example: beach, cats, nature, dancing…..Then share lists and see what you have in common and commit to doing more of that!
2. Write down five things that you really appreciate about each other. Share your lists and put them somewhere visible. You can even make a project of it and create an attractive display together. When challenges come up going forward, go back to the lists before addressing new issues.
3. Make time to be together: If you do not take the time to share joy in life then the relationship’s ability to grow and survive is diminished. Again, people all change with time and you need to know each other and how you both are changing to grow together. Therefore, each week plan a date. Alternate the weeks and each person can take responsibility in determining what the date will be. It does not have to be complex. It can be a night of playing cards and talking if both of you enjoy that activity. Sometimes the simple things in life are the most enjoyable.
May your relationships grow and prosper—and may you always be REAL!
Joeel A. Rivera, M.Ed., Ph.D. (ABD) holds a Master’s Degree in Counseling and is currently completing his dissertation for his Ph.D. in Psychology. Joeel’s extensive career as a relationship coach includes certifications in P.R.E.P, a 30-year research-based program for couples, Nurturing Father’s curriculum, and Parenting 21st Century. Joeel is now taking a select number of Life, Relationship, and Entrepreneurship Coaching clients. Contact Joeel at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.transformationservices.org