“Therefore, seek not to change the world, but choose to change your mind about the world.”—A Course In Miracles
Remember our new paradigm, Stimulus>BS>Response. We’ve shown how BS (your Belief System) is the only cause of unhappiness—the BS in the mind of the beholder. Some positive actions get misused in a futile attempt to fix the stimulus instead of your own BS. I call them the Seven Deadly Virtues.
Good communication does not cause a happy relationship; it’s a symptom. When you have better BS, you can accept and communicate anything clearly and without upset.
When my oldest was but a young’n, I learned about “I” messages from a popular parenting book.
The idea (as I see it now) was to pass responsibility for my feelings on to the unsuspecting child. “I feel sad when you don’t eat your gruel.” “I feel angry when you bite the dog,” etc., etc.
That isn’t communication, it’s manipulation. It didn’t work because, when we weren’t looking, he read the book too. When we tried it, he responded with, “Are you sending me an “I” message?”
We immediately enrolled him in the gifted program.
The theory behind the “I” message is, when you find out what I don’t like, you’ll stop doing it, and vice versa. We’ll scatter metaphoric eggshells all over our relationship, then tread carefully.
Of course, communication is important in all human relationships. It’s always better without a hidden agenda.
If I can only get you to commit to do what I want you to do, I can blame you when you don’t do it. Then, if you betray my trust, it’ll be your fault. I have a new club to pound you with.
Now my hurt is justified! Hooray! I don’t have to look at my own BS anymore. After all, you made a commitment. Maybe I can even make you feel guilty so you won’t repeat the offense.
Do I need to tell you that this is a misuse of commitment? Of course it is. Notice that the people who extol it as a virtue often want you to commit to something for them.
Of course life works better if people do what they say they’ll do. But it doesn’t work so well if you have to force the promise.
For happy relationships, commitment can only be offered, never demanded.
Trust is the foundation of every relationship, and to be happy we must trust. Trust friends and loved ones, and be worthy of the trust of others. It’s the foundation of a happy marriage, so they tell us. Who’s “they”? Hmmm.
The problem is that we put our trust in people and entities to do something, rather than to be. Most people do what they usually do. Anything more than that is a bonus.
When you trust somebody to do something, you set yourself up for disappointment. The time may come when they won’t do it. It’s just part of being an inconsistent human.
If people don’t do what you expect them to do, it’s up to you to change the BS that causes your upset. You can always trust them to be the way they are.
Who in the world would ever favor being inconsiderate? Nobody, of course, but here’s another misleading “virtue.”
Surely, you want to be considerate of other people’s time and to let them know when a commitment changes. That is not the consideration I’m talking about here. That’s an important way to operate that helps everything work better.
Suppose I ask you to suppress yourself in some way out of consideration for my feelings. It’s another way to say “Shape up so I won’t have to look at my own BS.”
A daytime TV talk show made a strong impression on me some years ago. A member of the audience remarked, “If my daughter ever got into trouble, I hope she’d be considerate enough not to tell me about it.”
That sure has the makings of a loving family, doesn’t it? I wonder what ever happened to her.
Of course you can still do something nice for someone you love. The difference is that it’s your choice, not somebody else’s demand.
The same rule applies to another of the deadly virtues:
My dictionary defines assertiveness as “confident and forceful behavior.” It’s the forceful part that confuses the issue. Within any act of force in human relationships lies the potential for rebellion. Force is a no-no when it comes to personal happiness.
Confidence is just fine. When you are confident with better BS, you can ask for what you want without fear. Your BS says it’s OK whether you get it or not, so you’ll never project those needy vibes.
Many of the pundits of pop culture tell us to be assertive. There’s no doubt you get more of what you want when you ask for it. There’s value to assertiveness, but like all the rest, it often gets carried too far.
What’s too far? How about the attitude of “I will fix you so my life will be better.” Many of the old human potential movements pushed this concept beyond all reasonable bounds.
I had a client who told me her fiancé announced that he was her “trainer.” That’s not taking responsibility. It’s just a poor rationalization for bullying. Dominating another has nothing to do with being responsible for yourself.
Yes, assertiveness is a virtue, but not when you use it to blame someone else for the way you feel. They’re your feelings, and you’re the only one who can handle them with better BS.
Ken Keyes says, “Ask for what you want. Take what you get, and work on the difference.
Tune in next month for the rest of those pesky Deadly Virtues. Can you guess what they are?
Gregg Sanderson is author of Spirit With A Smile, The World According To BOB. He is a licensed practitioner in the Centers for Spiritual Living, and a Certified Trainer for Infinite Possibilities. His earlier books were, What Ever Happened To Happily Ever After? and Split Happens—Easing The Pain Of Divorce. His latest project is the New Thought Global Network, where subscribers can enjoy the best in New Thought presentations from anywhere at any time. You can see it at http://www.newthoughtglobal.org.