“Doing something new involves repeated failure, or as it’s more politely called, substantial trial and error.”
–Craig Comstock, Enlarging Your Comfort Zones
The Buddhists refer to such a state of openness as “beginner’s mind.” They regard this orientation as the curiosity of a child’s mind, and believe that it is an enlightened way of being. But the pressure from both outside and inside to look good and to be right gets in the way of experimentation.
Far too many of us, in the process of acquiring knowledge and skills, felt humiliated in school and/or in our families. We may have ended up feeling stupid so many times that we don’t dare to show the vulnerability that accompanies openness to learning. Those of us with a dark past when it comes to learning, are especially in need of models, mentors, and supportive friends to discover the new ways of being that enhance our relationships. These supports can assist us in the process of staying open to life-long learning.
Seeking mentors in the areas in which we hope to become accomplished is practical and wise. In the realm of successful relationships, our supports can take many forms, professional consultants, books, workshops, or other couples who are farther along the path. When speaking with the most happily married couples who we can locate, we often find that they are delighted to share their stories for our inspiration and application.
When we hear a message that we sense will enliven our relationship, we are prompted to discuss these ideas with our partner. We can devise what that desired model might look like, and together set goals that will assist us to manifest our shared vision. That mental image comes alive when we implement our action plan, complete with practices that allow our skill level to rise.
Consider the following maintenance model that is widespread, but which limits the growth of each individual and the partnership itself. And then contrast that model with the development that is promoted by the transformation model.
|Maintenance Model||Transformation Model|
|Focus is on protection||Focus is on becoming whole|
|Closed System||Open System|
|Hierarchical distribution of power||Mutually shared power|
|External motivation (Pain & Pleasure)||Internal motivation|
|Exclusive Involvement – limited social life, discourage separate interests||Separate as well as shared interests & friends|
|Jealousy, Possessiveness, and Fear||Trust, Openness|
|Manipulation, Coercion||Direct honest communication|
|Reassurance through repeated ritualized activity||Encouragement of exploration of feelings|
|Protect & maintain false self||Value risk & authenticity|
|Unable to endure separations||Ability to enjoy solitude|
|Win/Lose orientation in conflict situations||Commitment to resolution & understanding|
|Threatened by differences||Respect for differences|
|High value on comfort, predictability & security||High value on growth, freedom & learning|
You can find out for yourself where your growing edge is and see if there is motivation to go through the awkward period of learning. Also, be sure to consider what you have to gain by adopting the growth model. Feeling a bit awkward while in transition can be a small price to pay for the bonanza of benefits that result from the learning of these new ways of being. Don’t take our word for it. Look to your experience to find out.
Linda and Charlie Bloom are excited to announce the release of their third book, Happily Ever After . . . and 39 Other Myths about Love: Breaking Through to the Relationship of Your Dreams.
Praise for Happily Ever After:
“Love experts Linda and Charlie shine a bright light, busting the most common myths about relationships. Using real-life examples, they skillfully, provide effective strategies and tools to create and grow a deeply loving and fulfilling long-term connection.” – Arielle Ford, author of Turn You Mate into Your Soulmate
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