Sunday, July 17, 2005

Another chapter: Truth in Relationship

A chapter from the book, Touch, Truth and Fun:


TRUTH: ANOTHER REASON FOR RELATIONSHIP
Friendship is a good word to remember when we talk about creating and maintaining a wonderful relationship. Touch, yes, we need that. Fun, that, too, is a great reason to hang out with another person. And then, day to day, when the sun rises in the morning, and when the fog comes rolling in, and when the rains begin to pour, or the rainbows begin to glisten, or the blues come over us, or we suddenly come up with a great idea, or we remembered something that makes us laugh, or we want to share something that we’ve learned and has a really excited, or want some clarification on something that is nagging at us, ah, yes, we want a friend.

We want a friend to have someone to talk to. We want a friend to have someone to listen to us. We want a friend as someone we can tell the truth to. And, though we often think at a superficial level that we don’t want this, we want a friend as someone who will tell us the truth.

Telling the truth. That sounds good, doesn’t it? Or maybe it sounds scary. Who knows, maybe the wind blows both ways, doesn’t matter. Look around you, remember in your own life, touch and fun can make a relationship happen for awhile, but without truth at the everyday core, you are going to have a dead relationship or a mechanical relationship, or you are going to have a collapsing one. And there are lots of arguments for encouraging the collapse and/or revitalization of moribund or mechanical relationship. And what is going to be crucial to this revitalization? You guessed it, truth.

So much for the theory and the glory of truth, let’s take one situation and see how a batch of variations in communication can either stray from or point toward truth. Let’s say, I’m having a bad day at my job and I’m worried what my boss might do and I come home and start to complain to my mate. And my mate interrupts me. I can respond in a bunch of ways to the mate’s interrupting me. Here’s some non-true ways:
– Shut up and stop interrupting me.
– You always interrupt me.
– You never let me get in a word edgewise.
– You should listen to me.
– You don’t understand me.
– You don’t support me when I really need it.
– You are such a creep/bitch/bastard.
– You are so insensitive, selfish, whatever, whatever.
– What’s wrong with you?

As anyone who’s been involved with another person can understand, all these statements are going to lead to more trouble and quarrelling. They tell a story about the other person, or imply what the other person is like or up to, but they don’t tell any truth about me, the speaker. These untrue, demeaning and demanding remarks, are just another layer of spears and slings being tossed from one person at another.

Now let’s try some statements with truth in them:
– I’m feeling worried about work and wish you’d listen without interruption.
– I want you to listen without interrupting.
– I feel ( angry, belittled, insecure) when you interrupt me.

Or to get to some radical truth telling:
– I’m feeling sorry for myself and want you to pity and take care of me.
– I’m feeling unappreciated at work and would like you to say a bunch of nice things about me.
– I’m angry at my bosses and afraid to pick a fight with them, so I’m temped to pick a fight with you. Ignore me if I say something stupid and help me out by suggesting something fun for us to do. In this grumpy state of mine, I can’t think of anything fun to do.
– I’m worried about work. Could you let me ramble on about it for awhile and not interrupt or give me any “help” later.
– I’m worried about work. Could you listen to me for awhile and then tell me what you think I should do.
– I’m feeling really insecure because of how work is going. How are you doing?
– I’m feeling like a big baby. Can you give me some love and attention, please?

All these statements tell my partner about me, and give them some room to respond from their own truth. You can see the difference. One set of statements is concerned with labeling and putting down the partner. All these statements take me out of my own business and put me in the partner’s business. They are all conjecture about the partner or demands of the partner.

The other set of remarks is about what I want or how I feel. My feelings might not be accurate. My boss might be crazy about me, but my feelings are true, as feelings. And when I am using truth to communicate what I want, there is no threat attached. So the partner gets to say Yes or No, and both are okay. Or that’s the theory.

This is so simple, and it took me a long time to figure it out. If my partner can’t say, “No,” to something I’m asking, if I’m going to have a big tantrum when they say, “No,” then I’m not really asking, I’m demanding. And on the other side, if they can say, “No,” and I’m okay with that, I don’t have to bottle up my requests for fear of the ,”No,” and I can be honest with what I want and they can know what I want, and we don’t have to get into the struggle where I’m trying to force them to give me what I want.

Life is like this. We want things. Sometimes we get them, sometimes we don’t. To be happy either way is one of the keys to true happiness, and the Work of Byron Katie, in my experience, is a royal route to this freedom from attachment. Either we are in our truth: I want you to laugh at my jokes. Or we are in the story/thought about how the other person should be: you are a jerk because you don’t laugh at my jokes.

One tells how we are ( wanting laughter at our jokes.)

The other tries to fight reality ( how dare you not laugh at my joke).

As Byron Katie says, when we fight Reality, we lose, but only always. And still, always, we can say what we want. We can listen to what our friend wants. We can find some time to have some good times together. This is what other people are for, isn’t it? For us to learn from and help and have a good time with? Seems like that to me.

1 Comments:

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