Wednesday, July 23, 2014

It's Annual Review Time

When Rocky and I met five years ago we knew that our connection was a "right place at the right time" sort of thing.  I had just gotten back from a trip to Australia and was ready to consider a relationship after five years alone but had no plan, and Rocky had given up looking.  That's when he almost ran in to me as I crossed the street.

Roll the tape forward, and with all this relationship equality stuff aside, living with a middle-aged guy isn't exactly a walk in the park.  We can be grumpy, set in our ways, are happy until we're not, and generally expect the world to revolve around whatever it is we're focused on at the moment.  Either one of us can flip from "my way or the highway" to "just take care of me" in a nano-second.  We can cuss each other out and throw punches one minute and then melt in the next.  There's a part of me that believes that just as teens should be shipped off for the middle-school years, middle-aged men should be locked away for the five-ten years it takes us to come through the realization that the sun doesn't rise just for us, that no one cares nearly as much about our faults as we do, and we're probably not going to be President of the United States so get over it.

This may sound like a rant about Rocky, but it's not.  I'm looking in the mirror at the moment.  In fact, I know that the stuff about him that bugs me most is all stuff that I see in myself when I de-fog the mirror and look carefully.

A lot of beliefs have been challenged these past few years.  A big one that was honed over a lifetime and very hard for me to let go of was: "Relationships are hard, contentious, and meant to be a struggle."  Bologna.  Relationship is just as hard as I make it.  When I choose to be grounded and connected, relationship is a breeze.  Because, whatever is going on in him at that moment is simply what's going on in him.  "Isn't it interesting that he is having a storm right now.  I wonder how I might support him in his storm?"  When I am un-balanced, off-center, non-grounded, and disconnected, whatever is going on in him becomes a direct attack on me.  "Can't we just have some peace in this house?  Do I have to fix everything? How did I get put in charge of you?"  And the tempers fly.

One of the things we agreed to early on was to have an annual performance evaluation for our relationship.  It happens in July and this one was particularly grueling.  Five years is enough time to know where all the buttons are and we're both pretty good at pushing them for each other.  Lots of teeth gnashing, growling, and barking.  We gave each other a 70 and 72 on a 100 point scale ("But I was NEVER a "C" student!!!").  And, at the end of it, we said, "As of today, I am committed to staying in, growing, and building our relationship in ways that work for both of us."

What would the annual performance review for your key relationships say?  And then, "How's that working for you?"



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

"It Is What It Is"

Or, is it?

This is not one of my favorite lines.  It tends to shut down conversation.  It sounds fatalistic.  Perhaps something Eeyore (of Winnie the Pooh fame) would say.

What is "it"?  Is "it" a fact?  Is "it" a belief?

If "it" is a fact... a verifiable, documentable, recordable, visible morsel of agreed upon data.. then yes,  "it" is what it is.  The facts are the facts.

My brother turned 60 yesterday and he said "it is what it is" and for perhaps the first time I agreed with that statement.  Yes.  The calendar and the clock are what they are.


If "it" is a belief, then all bets are off.  Because "it" then isn't what "it" is... "it" is what I believe "it" to be.


We all should.  Because when we allow beliefs to become facts... like when the boss says "It's true because I said it is true."... then we put ourselves under the control of whoever has the most power in the room, the loudest voice, or the biggest weapons. 

I've gotten into the habit of listening to the news and inserting these words into just about every statement made, like this:

What they say:  "The economy might tank in the next 60 days."
What I hear:  "Our belief is the economy might tank in the next 60 days."

When I can hear someone's statement as their belief, I can then say to myself, "How interesting that they have that belief!"  And then, ask myself the question, "What is it I believe?"  which moves me to a more mature posture of curiosity and alignment.

Just another day at the office...



Am I Listening?

A while back, someone said to me, “Wow, Vince, you’re such a good listener!”  It made me wonder what it’s like to be a bad listener!  So, I ...