Walking hand in hand in the relationship journey
When we meet someone and we like them, we don't question why. We enjoy their company, value their perspective and viewpoint, share common interests or insights, and feel comfortable in their presence.
Why then do we spend what seems like an eternity trying to change them towards our way of thinking, doing, seeing, and responding?
Often, couples and friendships form because we recognise, on an unconscious level, that the other person possesses qualities that we don't. The chalk and cheese; yin and yang. This isn't always the case, but from the relationship problems that have brought couples and individuals to seek coaching to resolve conflict, this does seem to be the case.
The common theme is that the 'other' person doesn't do what the client wants them to, or in the way they want them to. It's easy for me to see, as an outsider, that the client is often coming from a place of wanting the 'other' person to change to their way of thinking and behaving when it would be far more valuable to recognise that different doesn't necessarily mean better.
Being open to alternative perspectives, viewpoints, beliefs, and opinions allows us to be more considerate, kind, understanding, and compassionate, and I think we can all agree that these are very good qualities to have in most situations.
Relationships often get stuck as the respective parties involved get entrenched in their ways of doing things and are not open to opposing or different views and it quickly becomes about who is right and wrong.
Trying to make someone adopt your way often results in the other person showing their 'shadow' side; those responses and comments that are limiting and destructive, and this can quickly escalate into a destructive cycle within the relationship.
What is the first step to resolving this?
See the differences as just that - differing behaviours and thoughts. It is easy to make it one person against the other when it is far better to view it from you and them against the problem (behaviour, thought, viewpoint).
Ask what it would be like if there were two of you in the relationship? This is often an eye-opener, as the thought of there being two highly strung, fast-paced perfectionists in a relationship quickly shows a much bigger problem - there would be far too much competition and conflict. Likewise, what if there were two of the other person in the relationship - perhaps a slow-paced, laid back, messy person? Nothing would ever get done.
Again, this often shows the very reason the two people are in a relationship in the first place - they compliment each other, they bring balance to each other, they bring opposing views, opinions, and beliefs to the mix to maintain equilibrium and alternate perspectives so that we do not end up in our tiny little world.
In neuro-linguistics, there is a sentence that describes this and I'll explain it like this. The map is not the territory - this means that your 'map' is based on your experiences, learnings, beliefs, opinions, views, morals, ethics, etc. The map is very important to you, but it is not the territory. In other words, your map is just a small part of a much bigger picture - the 'territory' - and although you are a part of that, you alone do not complete the picture.
Hopefully, your relationships are with people who have similarities in their 'maps' with yours.
Learning to value each person's 'map' will help you see the world, and them, in a different light. You don't have to agree with their opinions, views, beliefs, etc, but maybe take a moment to understand that their 'map' is as valuable as yours and you never know - you may even learn a thing or two that you didn't know before.
And whilst you are open to different perspectives, agreed with or not, you can then walk hand in hand with that person, each of you on your journey in life and respecting each other enough to want to become that person's greatest cheerleader.
Imagine being able to show interest, value another person's views and perspectives, and enjoying the journey with interest and excitement and in return receiving the same. This creates a harmonious relationship foundation that is full of acceptance, kindness, compassion, and understanding. Who wouldn't want more of that?
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