Thursday, October 17, 2013

Love and Closeness Challenge #24: Challenged

It's a change of pace for me to write about challenging another, I'm so used to writing about giving and loving and kindness. This Love and Closeness Challenge about challenge is a challenge for me.
I do believe that we all must be challenged in life. It helps us to grow and evolve and without growth and evolution we are dead. Most people experience the most challenges with other people. Henry Grayson, author of "Mindful Loving," and "The New Physics of Love," says that "The path to God is through our brother". He goes on to say that the journey to divinity is through our relationships.
We are most challenged in our relationships that we feel are special with the people that we are closest to. Not many people have troubled relationships with their mailman or the grocery clerk or their ex-coworker. Usually, the relationships that present us with challenges are the close ones. This is because we expect from them. We may not have big expectations, from our perspective our expectations could be very small and reasonable. The problem is not the specifics of the expectations or the size, but the fact that we have expectations at all sets us up for trouble.
I can imagine that there are some people out there that may have just read that and thought, "You mean I shouldn't expect anything from the people I love?" Well, I'm not one for should and shouldn't, but yes actually that is exactly what I'm saying.
When you have expectations of another what you are saying is either: "Here are the set of rules that I expect you to live by, if you love me you'll do them," or "I've done this for you and now you owe me,". The dictionary defines expectation as a strong belief that something will happen or be the care in the future and a belief that someone will or should do something.
Every single conflict that you've ever had in any relationship, any frustration, irritation or annoyance has only been an issue because someone didn't live up to the expectations you created for them. They weren't living up to your idea of who they should be or what they should do. Relationships would be so easy if other people would just be who they are supposed to be and do what they're supposed to do. They would be effortless; and totally worthless and boring.
Why would they be worthless and boring? Because then the people that you would be interacting with would be like robots, conforming to your every idea of what they should be and what they should do, without a will of their own.
People stir up emotions in us when they behave in ways that don't comply with the rules, or expectations that we have for them. They trigger things inside of us and we get angry, or feel rejected, or offended. In truth, they aren't making us angry, they didn't reject us and they didn't offend us. They did whatever they did for whatever unknowable reason they did it and we chose to react the way that we did. We chose to react the way that we did because they upset a rule that says something like "when people do (fill in the blank) that makes me feel (fill in blank),". Maybe you didn't sit down and choose these rules, they have likely been formed throughout your life, but your rules are not the rules that other people should live by. How do I know this? Because we all have very different rules. I know people who get very upset when someone disagrees with something that they believe in. If they're talking to someone and the say what they feel is true and the other person disagrees, they feel offended and disrespected. I know for a fact that his is definitely not a rule for disrespect; I don't mind at all if someone disagrees with a belief that I have.
What does this really have to do with challenges? Simple: we are challenged because we have expectations. The less expectations and rules that we have for other people to live up to, the more harmonious, loving and joyful our relationships will be.
This is not to make anyone feel bad for having expectations, we are imperfect. Expectations are a part of human nature. They are there and we get triggered often because we have them. My challenge for you today is not to get rid of all of the expectations and rules that you have for others, that is too enormous a task and takes a lifetime. Instead, when you get "triggered" (have a negative emotional reaction) I challenge you to recognize what's really going on, and that is the other person hasn't lived up to your idea of who they should be or they haven't done something that you feel they should have done. Every upset is a violation of something you feel should or shouldn't be according to your personal rules.

To get very specific, my challenge for you today is to examine when you feel upset in any way. Ask yourself: "What expectations or rules is this person violating or not living up to that I've assigned for them?" and "Why did I assign this rule for them to follow?" Did you really need to set up that expectation for them? Each time you feel upset in any way, it's an opportunity to examine this and possibly to eliminate a rule or expectation and bring you closer to harmony, good feelings, love and closeness. 
In addition, any time that anyone else gets upset it's because their rules have been violated. You can choose to get upset in return, defend yourself and escalate the situation. Or, you can choose to feel some compassion. It's painful to be angry, to feel jealous or rejected and it's painful to judge others. Let your heart go out to the upset person. Also, it would benefit both of you if you examined what rule was being violated. \Listen carefully to what the person is complaining or upset about. There is a request to follow a rule or meet an expectation. This is direct instruction on how you can better demonstrate love for this person and make them feel good.

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