Everyday Dilemma: Should I keep my own counsel and accept my partner’s unpleasant behaviors? Or, should I let him know that I reject them and want him to change?
There’s something very odd about us humans. We invite others to be our intimate friends, lovers, and partners because we either like them, or love them. Then, oddly enough, we set about trying to change them. Sound familiar?
I had a little meter that always went off in my head: ‘I like that about him.’ Or, I don’t like that about her.’ That translated into ‘I accept you’ or ‘I reject you’. I was unaware of the trouble and pain I created by traveling down this path. It was such a well-worn route that I sped over its bumpy road faster than the speed of light. With no way to make that road smooth, I came to expect relationship to be more unpleasant than pleasant.
I tried out the notion of tolerance. It seemed to be the same process - dressed up in a tuxedo. It definitely looked better, and sounded better, but my inner experience remained the same. I still cringed when my partner sipped his soup, or scooped up his cereal, while grasping his spoon like a little kid just learning the skill. And my best friend’s habit of licking her lips every 2 minutes when she told me her tales of the day drove me crazy.
I believed my partner, and friend, was a reflection of ‘me’. In my mind, these behaviors did not support the image I wanted others to see. I found them unsophisticated, indicative of unawareness, and somewhat repulsive. (Of course, at the time, I didn’t see how unsophisticated, unaware and repulsive my behavior was.)
But I didn’t know there was any other option. It was either accept it and bite my tongue, or reject it, and make my partner feel bad about himself and his social skills, and my friend feel self-conscious and unworldly. I didn’t even have to really say anything; my non-verbal cringing was enough.
One day I ran into the notion of letting people be who they are. I laughed! Not possible for me. To incorporate this idea into a behavior meant I had to stop judging other’s behaviors as either good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant, crude or sophisticated. For me, this was simply impossible, and threw me into despair.
But when I realized I couldn’t stop the judgments from arising, I began to just watch them – without judging myself for having them. This simple act gave me some distance and space to find that sparkle of the Divine in my friend and my partner; to see Life was breathing them alive with Its own agenda – moment to moment. Suddenly, it was the Divine grasping his spoon, and the Divine licking her lips. That little shift in perception changed everything.
I practiced this knack of letting my beloveds be who they really are – the mystery of Life happening right before my eyes. The Whole, the Ultimate, God, the Divine – whatever you want to call it – was right there, doing its thing disguised as my partner and as my friend.
When I learned this way of seeing with my own eyes, I fell out of my head right into my heart. And there sat compassion - and the Love that embraces all opposites – simply waiting for me to arrive - judgments and all.
Ragini Michaels is the author of 3 books on paradox and the psychology of the mystics, the newest now available - Unflappable - 6-Steps To Staying Happy, Centered, and Peaceful No Matter What. She is the creator of two 4-CD Hypnosis/Meditation series: Hypnosis To Heal The Heart and Soul, and Hypnosis For Conscious Awakening. Ragini is an international trainer of NLP and Ericksonian Hypnosis and the founder of The Whole Brain Wisdom School. More at www.RaginiMichaels.com