Shoulds & Musts & Demands, Oh My

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Just one page from the 3 Volume set

If I’m going to be honest, I had a whooooooooole lot of those.  I’m sure he did too.  Everyone has them.  And it’s hard sometimes to be aware of your shoulds, musts and demands, because they usually result from the way you think, and since you have been thinking a certain way all your life… Is there a problem with your thinking?  Of course not!  It is easier to recognize your emotions though.  And usually lurking behind emotions such as anger, rage, depression, etc. is usually a demand you are unconsciously making on:

  1. Yourself
  2. Others
  3. Situations

Maybe you can view them as expectations, but either way they are preferences that you have maxed out.  You took something you would have liked or preferred and became irrational with it by making it an absolute must or a should.  And of course:  ANYTHING TAKEN TO THE EXTREME IS ERROR.  And these demands drive you, your actions and your emotions.

Demand on myself:

  • I must not be humiliated by him or this relationship
  • I must surveillance him and his actions to ensure that he does not humiliate me

Demands on him:

  • He absolutely must do things the way I want him to when I want him to do them
  • He must spend every free moment of his time entertaining me
  • He must take into account every single thing I feel all the time
  • He must contact me every hour on the hour and to not do so would mean x, y, z
  • He must not humiliate me and needs my surveillance in order to make sure he doesn’t
  • He must make me happy

Basically irrational, unrelenting and to think  this is the abbreviated version. 🙂  I wonder why things didn’t last.

Demands on situation:

  • This relationship must last “forever”

Sometimes it’s challenging to find out what your demands are.  It takes some reflection and honesty.  It’s a hard thing to admit not to mention unflattering upon closer inspection.  Like I can’t believe I actually silently said these things to myself.  But they manifest themselves in your life and in your relationships.  But usually when you can nail those top 2 or 3 demands it usually sheds a whole lot of light on how ridiculous they actually are.  You will be surprised at what you learn.  But it stands to reason that if you exhaust all your energy demanding these musts and shoulds, you are going to get the exact opposite. Unrelentingly adhering to your demands prohibits you from enjoying what actually is right before you, and having any semblance of  happiness.  But maybe you all knew this already and I’m just now realizing this.  In that case:  You SHOULD have told me!!!!! LOL.

In any event:  ask yourself what makes you upset or angry about life or your partner.  That is probably the easier question to answer.  Then you have to ask yourself why.  Why does that make you so angry?  Are you demanding something of that person?  And if so WHO SAYS THEY ABSOLUTELY MUST OR SHOULD DO/NOT DO/KNOW ANYTHING??  WHY SHOULD THEY DO WHAT YOU THINK THEY SHOULD??

THERE IS ABSOLUTELY NO REASON FOR ANY OF OUR MUSTS!  You may have to argue with yourself and your demands before you can accept this though.

But accepting this reality is the first step in changing our thinking and changing our lives.

Oh by the way, if you are looking for a good GREAT read.  Check out:  Three Minute Therapy by Michael Edelstein.

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Confessions of a Tin Man

ImageJourneying through life, navigating the yellow brick road of lovers lane, leaves us crossing paths will all sorts of interesting characters.  Every time we cross paths with one of these interesting characters, we also become an interesting character in the story they are constructing and writing about love.  We can help them forge on toward greatness, inspiring transformation and growth, or not, and worse yet the total opposite.  At some point we either cross paths with or are the Tin Man that crosses someone else’s path.   And as with all else, there are different types of Tin Men.  How your love story goes, depends largely upon which type of Tin Man you have encountered, or the type of Tin Man you are.

Meet:

The Man (or Woman)

No “Tin” necessary!

There is no room for improvement with this one.  He is the man!

No wait, he’s the Wizard!

As he pounds his chest to assert his manliness,  you hear the echo confirming the deep abyss of nothingness that lies behind his rusted tin exterior.  You offer to oil him up because you can hear the squeaks he’s grown immune to.  But who needs oil or you, when his confidence is his oil.  He’s the man of steel.   You had better recognize that you both have crossed paths because he has come to save you.

You are the problem.  You’re the one who needs a heart, a brain, some courage, red ruby slippers, and while you are at, you need to go home and think about how wrong you are for even suggesting that he could be *gulp* heartless.

We’re going on a journey where? To meet who?  To do what?

Feelings?

Tenderness?

Heart felt love?

Humility?

Nah.

He is already all of those things.  We don’t need to do anything.  You do.

“The Man/Woman” never realizes that the presumption of the impossibly of heartlessness, precludes one from the possibility of discovering  what it is to love and live with one (more deeply).

But every now and then you get lucky like Dorthy did and you cross paths with a

Self Proclaimed Tin Man

He’ll be the first to admit that he notices he needs something more.

This one actually does have a heart.

Fully aware of who he is and who he is not and confesses it.

Knowing what he lacks, vulnerable enough to admit that short-comings don’t only exist in you but in me too.  He’s delighted to join you on your journey toward being better because he could stand to make some improvements as well.  He knows that in order to get to a better ‘we’ there needs to be not just a better you he insists upon, but a better me as well.  An easy companion who recognizes that there is a certain degree of growth on his part that can only occur now that you two are journeying together.  And as the two of you invariably squeak as you go, journeying to find the heart, courage and strength of mind to truly love despite imperfections,  you stop to oil each other up, you discover that because you did not assume you were not heartless, you  actually had a heart all along.

Friendly Smile-minder

ImageI drove home today with many thoughts whirling through my mind.  Nothing in particular that I can call to mind now but, you know how it goes.  Further more, how do I sum up the whole of what I have been feeling these past couple of months?  I suppose it is best that I not (at least not all at once, especially since I am still processing all of this) but If I could describe my life for the past couple of months (with regard to relationships), I’d just say I have been staring face to face with everything in me that is, well less than beautiful.  And you do, well, I do, mentally retrace my steps, try to pinpoint exactly when things started to go wrong, try to examine my part in it all, wishing in vain that I had made different decisions, that I had learned certain lessons sooner, that I had let go of other things more readily.  Questioning some of my own “needs” and expectations to see if in fact they were realistic and/or legitimate.  Trying to find out why I just couldn’t be happy, why it seems I almost refused to be content.  Why it seems I insisted upon looking at the whole in the center and missing the doughnut.  And all you want to do is make it right and you come to stark realization that it is too late.

Sorry got a little side-tracked.  Where did all of that come from?  I was supposed to be telling a story about my drive home.   I digress.  So, I stop at a red light and I look at the car to the left of me.  I see a van with a dad and his daughter.  I see the little girl (no more than 10 or 11) writing on a sheet of paper as she leaned on the dash board of the car.  Suddenly she holds the paper up to me and it says “You ARE Beautiful!  Smile!”  And I smiled at her as she sheepishly put her hands over her face (slightly embarrassed I suppose that she found the courage to hold up such a sign to a sheer stranger).   And the light changed and the car pulled off and she waved excitedly at me as she drove off and I couldn’t help but tear up.  Sometimes when you look back (at life and the events there of) and look inside (to examine what changes you need to make) you lose sight of the fact that despite all your short-comings, despite all of your mistakes, wrongs, failures and past, there does still exist a beautiful person.  Now while I wouldn’t imagine for a minute, that she penned that message exclusively for me.  Nor do I think that I inspired her to write it.  Not sure what did and I will never know but I know that it was a friendly reminder to smile and never lose sight of your beauty.  Your mistakes don’t make you a failure, your flaws don’t define you.  They exist to keep you humble but to also make you stronger as you learn and grow from them.

So, I figured I’d return the favor and hold up my sign to you:  You ARE beautiful.  Smile!!!

Forever Marriages? Can They Exsist?

Had to share this!  It is a very candid, honest, vulnerable take on commitment from aImage male perspective.  I was not given permission by the author to pass this profound insight off as my own but I did get permission to repost and share!  I can only hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.   I think all too often forgiveness is overlooked as a powerful catalyst for change.  We lose so much without it.  But without any further ado, this piece can stand on it’s own….

Infidelity
This is a hot topic though. I tend not to refer to it because in one way it is very sensitive. In another way there was a preconceived notion that I had. Truthfully this can be taken out of context in many ways, at the same time it can step on some toes.
I have never been married. I have no gospel to spread with my name on it. I have never published a book. Yet, while being single I have studied people and cultures and tried to take my focus and the American culture out of the understanding of others. The Bible says in Proverbs, Wisdom is like gold and Understanding is like fine silver. I try to seek them without bias or prejudice.
Some cultures think infidelity is taboo, others allow it. There are many ranges of emotions but the strangest thing is that the European philosophy that is dictated to most of the world is not what is practiced by them.
I know some cultures like Arab, African, Japanese, and even Latino, embrace infidelity more liberally than we do. It intrigues me why but it has been addressed since the beginning of time in the Bible with many wives. Maybe it is part of human nature. I cannot really say what happens but there are different reactions to it. My interest comes from the focus on commitment, the true belief that there can be a forever for couples. I don’t want to deny or ignore the facts but embrace what is. What I do know is that there is this premise called “forever” that people want in marriage. That is supposed to be what marriage is about. At the same time we start it with conditions. It has become clear that these conditions end the marriage before the marriage even starts. Anything that aims at the contrary of forever is doomed for failure.
My whole life I thought that if someone was not faithful that I would not stay married. Being the man it could not be so. Hearing women make the same statement made me think the liberal thing to do is to expect the same from both parties. This is a double edged sword. As I saw some cultures (often even Europeans) not divorce but move past it in the name of commitment, this peaked my curiosity. From a man’s example of fault, if a man entertains another woman and a woman can forgive him she has truly humbled herself. That is notable. Only with humility can a marriage last. Only with humility can a promise of forever truly be made. Only with humility can there be success.
This concept was shocking to me. The only thing I could accept was that I did not know everything. So rather than finalizing my opinion I chose to embrace more. Seeing many cultures have continued marriages and even healthier family lifestyles than the one I lived as an American, it inspired me to really want more information on this way of forgiveness.
The cold hard facts were soon to be clear. You cannot get married and promise forever with an exception in mind. Right away it is doomed to fail. No matter what exception it is, it is a seed for failure. The next issue is, if you allow one exception you have to allow them all. Who are you to say when an exception is allowed and when one is not? If you want forever and your spouse wants to pull another exception out of the hat at any given time that it suits them best then you have to allow it because you have one yourself. Thus failure! (Let’s not entertain the notion that if they want to divorce you then they know they only need to be unfaithful to get their “get out of jail free card”.)
The only true promise is going into a marriage saying, no matter what happens, I truly love this person and if the worst and I mean the absolute heartbreaking worst happens, I am committed because I love them forever. (Ugh, scary!) I will seek counseling. I will do all that I can to get past this to help us get past this. I cannot promise I will be strong enough to forgive and have a wonderful marriage, but I can promise that I won’t quit from the start of the problem or the start of the marriage with an exception. If I say before the marriage” this will end if…” then I already have ended the promise of forever/until death do we part. If I look a person in the face promising one things but knowing my commitment only goes but so far then I am not honest about that commitment I am making. It is fair to have major reservations in getting married because something could happen. It is not correct to proceed in a course of action under false pretense.
I have come to learn I can’t entertain the thought of divorce if there is infidelity. I would hate having that happen, but I started a marriage under the commitment of forever. I may not be the best survivor of that but that is a different topic to address and there are professionals to help with that. What I do know is that American society has dealt a liberal hand to both men and women. If there are cases where women are expected to forgive, then that double edge sword now comes back to bite men too. If we rejected liberalism our whole life then life can be one sided. But if you accept the belief we are all equal in this thing called life together, then we all have to be responsible and accountable the same way.
Yes, in the end it is hard. It harder than we ever thought: to promise someone a marriage commitment. Following a generation of quitters and false media statements have sent us down the road of failure. But we have not reached the destination. We must stop, follow the tracks backwards, back-up and pursue the path of success we want for ourselves and our children. The real reason why is because in lying to ourselves we also have told ourselves the truth: we want a successful marriage that lasts forever and has a real commitment of forever, until death do we part.

Whose Loss Is It Anyway?

It’s either your loss or their loss.  You either say it or you think it, or someone else says it to you about someone you were with  as consolation.  Which ever the case, I’m sure we  have all either uttered these words to someone, or have been on the receiving end of (some rendition of) these words.

When is it said? 

win.loseI’m guessing after someone decides to end the relationship.  The break-up-er (or dumper) will say something of the “it’s over” sort and the break-up-e (or dump-e) will retort some version of the “it’s your loss anyway”. [Yes I just made up some words :-)]

Here is probably the least likely rendition of the statement:  It’s your loss… and mine too. How’s that for shock value?  Here you are expecting to hear the infamous it’s your loss and someone comes at you from left field with those 3 additional words!

I’m not sure how it works though.  I don’t know if the revelation those 3 additional words hold is capable of being communicated immediately upon ending a relationship.  Maybe it’s something that people decide is the case after enough time has elapsed to assess the nature of the relationship without any animosity and ill-feelings.  So then maybe it’s said in the past tense as you’re reflecting, “It was their loss, and mine too“.  I wonder how many are capable of this degree of honesty.

But even if that is the case, does that imply that the breakup was a mistake, because if not, isn’t the statement then an unrealistic reflection of what actually was?  Whose loss is it really?  The person who loved more?  The person who sacrificed the most?  The person who didn’t see it coming?  The person who was wronged?  Or the person who wronged?

Or is this a case of perspective?  Maybe it’s not about winners and losers at all.  Maybe both parties experience some degree of both wins and losses.   And the real winner is the person who can learn to identify their love patterns,  make the necessary adjustments so as to not  experience another loss for the same old reasons.

The Greastest Man I Never Knew I Knew

The greatest man I never knew  obama

lived just down the hall

And everyday we said hello

But never touched at all

He was in his paper, I was in my room

How was I to know he thought I’d hung the moon?

The greatest man I never knew

Came home late every night

He never had too much to say

Too much was on his mind

I never really knew him

But now it seems so sad

Everything he gave to us took all he had

The greatest words I never heard

I guess I’ll never hear

He was good at business but there was business left to do

He never said he loved me

Guess he thought I knew

I had to have been 11 years old when I first heard this song.  My aunt played it for me and asked me to guess who I thought the song was about.  My guesses were very far off because I had no idea the song was about someones dad.  Awesome song that I am sure can strike a chord with many a listener. (listen to it here)

But the thought of how our relationships with our fathers go on to later affect our relationships (with men) is something that comes up relatively frequently.  Psychology constantly makes reference to this and it is an important consideration.  Two weeks into my relationship, someone asked me if I saw any similarities between the man I was dating and my father.  And it being so early on in the relationship, the only similar I could state was that they were both punctual.  And this is how we are used to it being presented.  With questions such as:  How are they similar?  How are they different?  Which may or may not be helpful.  But it really gelled for me when I was listening to this radio broadcast the other day and they said that when a man is courting a woman and thinking of marrying her, he needs to ask her about her father.  He needs to listen to how she speaks about her dad because chances are that is how she will imagesspeak of him.  They also said that he should ask her what she wished she could change about her dad because chances are those are the very things she will wish she could change about him.  And my jaw nearly hit the ground because as I considered both of these questions and/or concepts I couldn’t believe how true it was and this is what I discovered:

The Greatest Man I Never Knew  Know:

  • Very hard working
  • Frugal
  • Very funny
  • Very good with people
  • Fearless
  • Intelligent
  • Punctual
  • Shows his love through providing
  • Places his emphasis on actions rather than words
  • Honest/trustworthy
  • Logical thinker
  • Dependable
  • Man of his word
  • Responsible

How I viewed him:

  • Very critical of me
  • Insensitive
  • Impossible to please
  • Not affectionate
  • Verbally abusive
  • Couldn’t wait to get away from him

What I would have changed about him:

  • Made him more affectionate
  • More tender-hearted

Now while these lists are about my father, they all bare a striking resemblance to the lists I would construct about the man I was in a relationship with (minus the verbally abusive piece).  Those were the similarities I couldn’t see two weeks into the relationship.  But the most alarming thing was that everything listed under how I viewed my father (was from an adolescent mindset)  was totally subjective, but since they were unresolved, without realizing it, I projected those same sentiments onto the man I was in a relationship with.  And him and I had many discussions about my dad.  And at that point, I had a lot of bitterness, resentment and even hatred for my father.  My perspectives have changed a bit since that time and you should hear me speak about my dad these days.  He can do no wrong.  Not.  But I understand him differently now and most importantly I made a decision to accept him for who he is and has always been.  As an adolescent I exhausted most of my energy praying that he would somehow change, or pleading with him to be different.  I would tell him about other people’s fathers whom I wished he was more like (I’m sure that must have hurt him).  The reality is that he is not perfect, he is who he is, and I have come to accept that.  I remember being about 8 or 9 years old and crying to him telling him that he didn’t love me and I remember him saying to me “How is it that I don’t love you?  When you’re hungry, there’s food here for you to eat right?  When you say you need a new pair of sneakers, don’t I get them for you?”  And it took me years to learn that, those were things he did because in his mind, that was how he showed his love.  Because I can remember in my 8 year old mind saying “what the heck do food and shoes have to do with love??”   In any event, I don’t think I would be the person I am today without my father’s involvement in my life.  I appreciate him and make it a point to do as much as I can for him these days.  I have come to terms with the fact that long heart to hearts are not something I will ever get from him but that’s okay.   I wonder if relationships are women’s attempts at finally getting to know “the greatest men we never knew” and somehow resolving those issues?  In any event, the evolution my thinking about my father has undergone has been major for me and our relationship is much better for it.  It is also amazing how our thinking about our fathers and our sentiments towards them directly parallel our thinking, understanding and sentiments towards the men in our lives, past, present and future.

Points Are Made To Be…

Sharpened?   They say relationships are the best way to learn more about yourself because it puts you in a situation to really confront who you are as an individual and let’s just say, sometimes what you find is down right disgusting, to say the least.  pencil pointBut in relationships you are confronted with the image you had of yourself, who you thought you were, and who you prove to be by your actions toward the other person and your responses.  And if you are lucky (or maybe mature and responsible) both will line up.  If not, you’re in for rude self-awakening.  Nevertheless, you learn, contrary to what you have always believed about yourself, you are not perfect.    And it’s funny because everything you say and do seems to be so right in the moment.  You did something and you felt justified in doing it, and therefore you stick to your guns because, you are right.  But as time progresses and you take those trips and revisit some of those same places from a different frame of mind you learn that you were not as right as you thought you were.  But hindsight is always 20/20, no?  Who knows, they say that women are usually more hard on themselves following a “failed relationship”.  That somehow they feel more responsible for it’s ending in ruins.  Can’t argue there.

In any case, I call to mind a particular instance when I (as on many occasions) decided I was going to do something I thought was right!  I was going to show him!  Show him what, I don’t know,  but after all I was right.  Right?  Well… maybe not.  I left the house.   I was peeved.  Who knows about what.  But my response was I guess to hurt him, or to communicate to myself and to him that I didn’t need him.  I was going to get the the post office all by myself.  Who cares that I didn’t have a car or that I had no idea where I was going.  I was going to find my own way there and back, and I was going to do it all by myself.  I didn’t need him.  And then… I got lost.  Couldn’t find the destination I Google mapped on my phone.  It said it should be just up this street, but either my sense of direction was off or maybe just maybe the “point” I was trying to prove was going to be debunked.  Who was I fooling?  Perhaps not even myself.

And so I called him.  Angrily, I told him I was lost (like it was his fault), and with an attitude asked him to meet me in the middle of no where.  And he came and met me.  Oddly enough it was without throwing it all in my face.  And I’m quite sure it was not even something I apologized for because I “was right”.

Random.  Yes.  A whole year late.  Absolutely.  But it’s still my blog, no?  And I can post whenever I want to.  Right?

Just a lesson I’ve learned in love.  Points are best left unproven.  Anything done from the vantage point of trying to prove a point to someone can’t be beneficial to the relationship but instead carry within it the seeds of destruction and division.  And it can be hard because, that is sometimes all you know to do.  They say that every relationship is based on need and where there is no need, there is no relation(ship).  Certain points we try to prove involve this concept that we don’t need the other person, well then why are you in a relationship with them?  Why are you building a life with them?  To create a need so that you can continue relating.  In any case, most points are best broken before they’re attempted to be proven or better yet erased because if you sacrifice all to prove them, it will leave all else in your relationship at a breaking point.