So my husband and I exist in very different experiences of the world.
I’m a personal growth coach into healing and spirituality, and he’s a police officer who has to deal with some pretty scary situations and interact with people who aren’t always pleased to see him.
Truly we don’t always see eye to eye as our world experiences have shaped us so differently.
But we refuse to stop there.
We ask each other tough questions. We force each other to look at our own shadows.
We expose each other to the brightest aspects of society as well as it’s absolute darkness.
Back when we were dating and he revealed his commitment to continuing to seek a police officer job, I told him – ‘oh I’m not really interested in that.’
But here we are ten years later.
It’s not easy, and some days it’s annoying!
We all WANT to see the world in the way it makes sense to us – it’s obnoxious and uncomfortable for someone else to blow up your view of what you feel in your bones to be true and force you to again, expand your perspective, based on deep listening, compassion, and the desire to be a better human being.
One day a couple of months ago, exhausted after a fight and stuck at an impasse, we came up with a manifesto of sorts and we both signed it.
It strikes me now how this is simply good advice for all of us trying to make our way through the world:
1. See each other as our teacher
2. Value other person’s career and/or positive contribution to the world
3. Uplift and encourage
4. Give constructive/compassionate feedback
5. Say: “I know you didn’t do this on purpose but…”
6. Respond with a genuine “ok” and/or “I’m sorry”
7. Everyone work on mindfulness and friendly/kind tone of voice
What if we all incorporated these values into our actions right now? How would things change?
So next week we’re going to continue on a related conversation track and talk a lot about the idea of transforming shame and anger – for all of you with sensitive natures, I imagine it’s been an overwhelming time in the world as there’s lots of shame and anger flying around.
Shame and anger make it a lot harder for people to really hear the important truths of a message and surprisingly do not actually inspire people to make real and sustainable changes. This is true in a personal one-to-one relationship as well as on a larger scale. But with a few tweaks I think we can channel all this energy flying around into something really amazing though! This is the year for big changes for sure. Soo that’s next week.
But for now – let’s look a little closer at the seven values above from the official Angela + The Hubs Manifesto for building a better relationship.
Because when you really distill down many of the polarizing, one-sided issues facing our world right now – it’s not that different than a one-to-one relationship. It’s the same kinds of issues we all face every day in our personal relationships, just magnified to a much grander scale.
But things are much easier to understand when we bring them down to a very tangible level.
So where do we even begin?
Start by incorporating those seven values above into your daily actions with other humans. Because let’s be honest, we are all pretty awesome and perfect when we live in our own bubbles, but it’s when we come into relationship with other human beings that the real work begins.
1. See each other as our teacher – the most difficult people in our lives are by far our greatest teachers. This is a big mindset shift in changing our perception of the purpose of people that challenge us. Challenging people push us into the growth and healing that we desperately need for our heart and soul but cannot see without their “assistance.” Instead of feeling that the only option available to us is to change and control their behavior, we suddenly feel that we have a lot more power in the relationship when we realize that by doing OUR work to grow and heal we actually start to feel better and improve the challenging relationship.
We don’t have to keep every challenging person in our lives, but we do need to pay attention to what they are revealing about us, do the work, and then move on (unless they are doing their work too – then you can grow together which is awesome!) But if we DON’T pay attention to what they are trying to get us to see about ourselves, we will absolutely run into this same kind of teacher over and over and over. There are both psychological and spiritual reasons for this phenomenon! So people we find challenging = our greatest teachers.
2. Value each other’s positive contributions to the world – every person has something to give, remember to also focus on these positives. For awhile I couldn’t understand why the hubs needed to control everyone by being a police officer and he couldn’t understand why I needed to control everyone by constantly doling out life advice.
It was that strange realization that he also didn’t understand the good I was trying to bring to the world (which I thought was clear and based on pure intentions!) that I realized that I wasn’t focusing on the good that he was also trying to bring to the world (which he thought was clear and based on pure intentions). Sometimes our negative perceptions about people are simply based on the fact that there is something we don’t understand. When we get to the root of understanding another human being we can usually find the positives!
3. Uplift and encourage – replace shaming messages with empowering ones. We all need to make changes. We are messy, imperfect humans. But think about how good it feels to have someone believe in you and your ability to reach your highest potential! Versus someone pointing out all the shit you keep screwing up. Which one makes you excited to change and be a better human?
4. Give constructive/compassionate feedback – we are all human, mistakes will be made. Feedback is a pill easiest swallowed with a spoonful of compassion and empathy. It’s the secret sauce that allows you to speak your radically honest truths and get people to actually listen.
5. Say ‘I know you didn’t do this on purpose but…’ – it helps people to feel less defensive and better able to hear the message you want to deliver to them. When what you really want to say is ‘how could you?! Shame on you!’ try out ‘I know you didn’t do this on purpose but…’ and follow it up with that constructive/compassionate feedback!
6. Respond with a genuine ‘ok’ and/or ‘I’m sorry’ – it shows that you’ve genuinely heard the message delivered to you, instead of deflecting it back. Ok I’ll be honest, this one was on the manifesto that the hubs and I put together because of ME. Having a recovering perfectionist nature, I can have a hard time admitting that I actually am not perfect – especially when I’m on the defense (see #5 for assistance dealing with someone who gets defensive!). I remember the first time I actually just said “ok” to the hubs’ feedback instead of defending my honor. He was like, ‘whoa what? Thank you.’ And then the fight was over. It was kind of amazing and I realized how powerful that little word could be.
7. Work on mindfulness and friendly/kind tone of voice – it’s a lot easier to have a friendly/kind tone of voice when we’re in an expansive responsive mode instead of an immediate reaction mode. When you feel yourself getting agitated, take a deep breath, or many deep breaths, or excuse yourself from the situation for a moment, and then carefully choose your response. Your future self will thank you for all the damage control you don’t have to do later.