Linda: Some meaningful ways that we support each other to become authentic are:
- Stimulate each other’s curiosity about what most interests us.
- Discern what our own values and standards are, rather than taking what our family assigns to us, and support each other to live by those.
- Tell the truth about the toll that it takes to live in an environment that is pressurized and strive together to reduce the stress that comes from high demands from outside the self.
- Minimize rules, rewards, and regimentation.
- Share power in decision-making.
- Keep a close eye peeled for any form of domination and control, both inside the partnership, and from those outside the relationship.
- Go for the fun.
- Be careful not to be seduced by monetary rewards that entice us to go off the road of what means the most to us.
- Encourage each other to set our own goals that have meaning to us.
- Have clear boundaries around work so that it doesn’t squeeze out play.
- Tell each other the truth when we notice activities that drain enthusiasm.
- Carefully note those activities that bring forth the most vitality, spontaneity, and enjoyment and do more of those.
- Mutually support each other to be life-long learners.
- Completely remove threats and ultimatums from our communication.
- Be careful not to impose our goals on our partner, but to offer them and see if they are in agreement.
- Cease and desist from any demands and commands. They are blatant forms of control.
- Distinguish the difference between giving up control to become passive, permissive, and ignoring behavior as forms of unskillful relating. Only by becoming authoritative, not authoritarian will we become assertive, which is an example of skillful relating.
- Save any form of pressure for only those needs that are exceptional. Insistence must be used sparingly.
- When we express a need, have some breathing space around it, a willingness to take no for an answer, or to take a rain check for later. People want to feel that they have free choice.
- Avoid controlling language by deleting from our vocabulary: “should,” “have to,” “must,” “duty,” and “obligation,” so that we do not feel fearful that we will be punished when we make our choices. Be sure to offer invitations so that our partner knows that our choices are “get to’s” not “have to’s.”
- Set limits and boundaries in a respectful way by providing a rationale for our decision, being empathic, acknowledging their feelings and needs while respecting our own.
- Give feedback in a respectful way.
- Drop all forms of manipulation.
- Beware of the definition of success that measures by the money, status, and power, rather than fulfilling personal relationships.
- Recognize that control inhibits resourcefulness, concentration, intuition, spontaneity, and creativity, and that lack of control promotes all of these.
- Define autonomy accurately, not as self-indulgence, but as being true to myself, while accepting responsibility for being considerate of another.
- Discern the difference between autonomy and independence. Independence is to do it for yourself and not rely on others. Autonomy means to act freely including relying on others. Autonomy and relatedness are not mutually exclusive.
- Honor healthy dependence as a significant part of every loving relationship.
- Understand integration as bringing ever-expanding parts of ourselves, that may have been set aside for a time, back into our personality.
- Become sensitive to the influence of the voices both internally and externally and examine them closely. It’s easier to identify the aggressive voices of a bully. There are others that are softer, sweeter, and more caring than are more seductive because they may be well-meaning. But these voices may be covertly arrogant and intrusive with the intention of controlling us none-the-less.
- Strive towards harmony within. It comes from a coherent sense of self, which will allow for harmony within the partnership.
- Encourage the life force within that wants to move toward mastery.
- Believe in each other. We have vast untapped potential, that with a supportive environment, will surely manifest.
We all have an innate desire to feel competent, effective, and successful. We are driven by the need to take on a meaningful personal challenge and to give it our best shot. It doesn’t matter if childhood and early adulthood were characterized by compliance to others’ agendas for us. A full coherence and integration of lost parts of ourselves is possible.
To be accepted by our family group, religious organization, or friendship circles, we conformed to fit in. To step outside of these conditioned patterns will cause anxiety, perhaps a great deal of anxiety at least at first. We will be facing all those fears that drove us to compromise ourselves over the past years. The task is too daunting to do alone. We must have support if we are to reclaim our true self. It’s a great deal of work to design an alternate way of living that is outside the prevailing model we have grown up in. But the payoffs are tremendous. What is more important than leaving behind the false self and re-owning the true self? Having a partner to mutually support our efforts is a great opportunity and a most extraordinary blessing.