A few days ago, I was watching a television show (which one I can’t remember), and one of the characters said, “When someone says NO and the other person refuses to accept the NO, and tries to turn it into a YES, then they are manipulating you.” For some reason, those words have been echoing in my mind ever since. And, as I write, I wonder why such enduring reverberation?
Do they echo because I’m reminded of those times when I didn’t accept NO, or remembering those times when my NO was ignored? Am I the manipulator or the manipulatee? Maybe, it really doesn’t matter which one I’ve been…just that I’m noticing my reaction.
For me, a breakthrough in creating loving relationships means to have the courage to be honest. Being honest in a relationship means taking full ownership of your NOs (and YESes). And, it is this precise subject that I consider my life as a Relationship Master Class. In this master class I’ve made great strides, and I’ve failed miserably.
Maybe, you can relate.
There have been times in my life where I’ve owned my NOs, or better said, shoved them down my partner’s throat. In those times, I was so clear (stringent) about what I would or wouldn’t do, that perhaps, my partner felt disregarded. In contrast, there were other times where I was so accommodating (invisible) about my personal boundaries that any NO could quickly be converted intoYES-if I even managed to articulate it at all.
“I’ve got self-esteem for sale real, real, low, and I’m looking to buy unconditional love at top-shelf prices! Is anybody listening? TOP-SHELF PRICES!!!” As I look back, I can see that my whole life has been a quest for balance. Balance in the sense that I allow myself the freedom to say/do what I want AND include my partner as an important part of my life-and my decision-making process. But more than that, I want to cultivate a relationship in which my partner could clearly articulate what he wanted, and I would immediately create an accepting space.
The problem is, sometimes I don’t really know what I want. Sometimes, what I want depends on what I “think” my partner wants. Sometimes what I want is influenced by what I “think” would make my partner happy. So, in other words, it may not be what I would want, but perhaps just because it’s something that Michal wants, maybe I should check it out? Or maybe, the truth is, I allow myself to say YES to a few things that I really don’t want, just so that I can one day say, “Remember that thing I didn’t really want to do, and I did it anyway? Well, today I’m calling in my markers.”
You know the system I mean, don’t you? The RSE, or as it is more commonly known: The Relationship Stock Exchange-the system of wholesale relationship bartering that we use as a clearing house of our relationship credits and debits. This unspoken system, with volumes and indices as high as The New York Stock Exchange; used every day to trade relationship commodities. Looking back at your own life, it may not be difficult to imagine yourself as a frenzied RSE trader screaming, “I’ve got self-esteem for sale real, real, low, and I’m looking to buy unconditional love at top-shelf prices! Is anybody listening? TOP-SHELF PRICES!!!”
If you’ve been a consistent reader of my blog, you’ve probably noticed my usual pattern is to wrap things up rather neatly. However, this week, I find that I’m not really motivated to find a way to “package” it ever so nicely and hand it to you. This week, I want to leave you (and myself with a question). The question is, “What do you want?”
In my work with people, it has been my experience that those four simple words can be extremely intimidating. They are overwhelming. They are relentless. They are insistent. And, they leave no doubt as to their intent…
WHAT = insinuates the infinite possibility of answers. DO = puts “something” into motion. YOU = places the focus on YOU and ignores everyone else. WANT = requires the articulation of an impulse, wish, or want. When you think about the question that way, there’s no wonder those words often stop us in our tracks. The implication of the question is that anything could be put into motion that YOU wish/want/hope-given the scope of the natural universal laws. The implication is that we’re infinitely powerful, yet we often feel small, insignificant, and victimized. The implication is that, in our relationships, we have ceased to relate to one another (and ourselves), and instead have equated relationships as a game of manipulate or be manipulated.
So, for now, begin to open up to the possibility of breakthrough in creating loving relationships by sincerely asking yourself the question. And, when the question is asked of you, stop and notice if your automatic answers are honest. Check in to see if when you ask someone what they want, if you leave room for them to be honest with you. And another thing, sometimes the person we’ve been manipulating all these long years is ourselves!