The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Monday, December 30, 2013

Soulmate Commandment #6: Thou shalt demand the very best from thyself...

6.   Thou Shalt Demand The Very Best From Thyself–And Refuse To Settle For Less Than That From Others.

I have to say this again and again: you have the right, and the responsibility to bond only to the very healthiest and most appropriate person your heart can attract and hold.   Almost every day,   someone posts about their crazy husband or wife or ex-husband or ex-wife, who they made children with, and now hold those children hostage in a savage divorce or custody battle.  The kids are whiplashed, impoverished, abused or neglected.  When questioned, it is clear that there were obvious clues that SOMETHING WAS WRONG from the beginning, or at the very least that the man or woman in question allowed simple attraction to overrule common sense.    What is pitiful is when they say something along the line of “well, I thought that they deserved love too…”

Well, sure, but that doesn’t mean it has to be YOURS, for goodness sakes.   What other comments: “he told me he wouldn’t treat me the way he treated the others…”   “I didn’t know anyone who knew him…”  “she promised she would change…”  “she got pregnant…” “I was lonely…”    “I was just coming out of another relationship…”

And so forth and so on. Recipes for disaster.    Here are some things to consider:

1) The best predictor of the future is the past.  Try to meet people who your intended dated or married prior to you.  If you can’t, consider that an orange flag.

2) People who mistreat other people will eventually mistreat you.  If they gossip about others, they’ll gossip about you. Watch the way they treat their pets, too.

3) Everyone feels alone and afraid. There are only two  questions: a) what do they do with their loneliness and their fear?   b) What story do they try to sell you about it?  If a) and b) do not match, another orange flag.

4) Any potentially reproductive activity triggers bonding responses.  Don’t kid yourself.  Your hind-brain doesn’t speak “birth control.”   The crazy behavior we often see in supposedly “casual” relationships is competing value structures crashing and burning.

5) Be scathingly honest about why your body, career, and relationship history.   In the depths  of your own heart, accept no lies or blame on others.  Musashi’s first principle: DO NOT THINK DISHONESTLY. The more honest you are, the more you take responsibility for who and what you are in the world, the easier it is to see through the lies, excuses, distortions and manipulations used by others. The more of a liar someone is, the less congruence there will be between words and actions.  Humans are exquisitely tuned to detect such clues, unless we are blocking out the information.   “I’m not perfect, what right do I have to expect others to be?”  None.  But you can demand honesty and growth from yourself—and from anyone who wants to enter your intimate space.  For the sake of children unborn—and your own heart—you must be prepared to demand nothing less.

6)  “Ruthless Compassion” is a principle I hold dear.  When you force your children to do their homework, or deny them ice cream for breakfast, it doesn’t matter that they scream and beg. That’s their job.  Your job is to be the @#$$ adult.   Period.  The same is true for your non-optimal hungers.    If you let the nattering voices in your head control you, you are pretty much screwed.

7) Pay attention to actions more than words.  If the actions and words do not match, assume that you are being lied to.   Only then pay attention to those words—what is the story the intended is trying to sell?   TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS.  Unfortunately, you will only calibrate them by making mistakes, so start with small judgements and slowly work your way up as you refine your sensitivity. 

8) You’ll never get to 100% predictive capacity.  You will, however, be able to understand everything that people have done, in retrospect. When you see how love and fear mold you and the people closest to you, you have a basis for understanding others.   

9) Test your judgement, beginning with asking why you  did the things you did in your own life, without excuses.  Everything you’ve ever done, you did because you considered it your best bet for increasing pleasure and reducing pain.  Every discipline you’ve accepted was in the belief that pain now means pleasure later.  You’ve done the best you could with the resources you have.  Love yourself enough to forgive yourself, and you can look at the worst behavior without blinking.  This will open the door to understanding and appreciating others.

10) Forgive your past relationships.  Remember that YOU chose them.   They weren’t forced upon you.  Remember also that, like you, they did the best they could with what they had to work with.    If you can’t let go of the anger, it is because you are afraid that, without anger, you will make the same mistakes again. Be hurt again.  LEARN THE LESSONS AND YOU CAN RELEASE THE PAIN.  You can avoid pain, resist predation, even kill an enemy…without fear or anger.    You will know whether you have evolved to the next level, and learned the lesson, if you can see what happened in those earlier relationships without blame, guilt, or shame.

11) You can trust other people to the exact degree that you can trust your ability to evaluate them.  What are their values, beliefs, goals, and capacities?  And you will gain clarity there if you don’t need other people to ignore your flaws.   Most relationships are based on “don’t call me on my b.s. And I won’t call you on yours.”

No.  As you would for your own child, you should aspire to being all you have the capacity to be.  And the only way to do that is to surround yourself with people who see and beleive in the very best from you.  You support them, and let them support you.  Love yourselves and accept yourselves for where you are…but remember that when you’re green, you grow.  When you’re ripe, you rot.

Stay green.  Keep growing.


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