Making changes in my life means making changes in me.
The only behavior I can control is my own. I won’t stop others from being disrespectful but I can speak up when I feel disrespected. I won’t stop others from stepping on my boundaries, but I can stand up to enforce those boundaries and make sure they are publicly known. I can’t stop others from treating me poorly, but I can control my own reactions and respond in loving ways rather than negatively.
Most importantly, it is my duty to keep my heart open and not hide behind a wall of my own making.
Be myself. This is how I see Me:
All of these traits are a part of who I am regardless of who I’m with. And, yes, I only listed the positive ones. I’m working to minimize the negative traits, for me, not for anyone else. It’s important to be authentic in life. But if you need a short list of my bad relationship traits click here. I refer to this list often because I am diligent about NOT repeating these behaviors. (Confession: I cry every time I read it. This list isn’t exactly my shining hour. I am ashamed.)
Words are pretty but mean nothing if the actions taken don’t match what is said. Many times we’re afraid to speak our hearts because we fear the rejection that may come if we open ourselves completely.
And yet it is important to face that rejection. By letting others know what we really want we have a greater chance of finding it and can quickly weed out those who won’t support or fill our desires and needs.
One thing I really want is to travel in my retirement. Oh, hell, I love to travel now too, it’s just that pesky work thing that keeps getting in the way. I’m open about my love of travel and where I want to go. I speak of world cruises, riding trains across the Canadian plains, driving around all of the Great Lakes, flying to Hawaii… The mode and destination don’t really matter. Except mule. I won’t go by mule.
If I were to start dating again and encountered a man who said his idea of retirement was to sit in front of his computer every day… well… that would be a very short date. Pretending that I wanted to do the same might get me into a relationship but it wouldn’t keep me happy in one for very long.
Obviously this is a simple example.
A harder example would be talking to a new potential partner about marriage.
I recently read an article about Dr. Phil and Robin McGraw. By the age of 20, (the future Dr.) Phil had already been married and divorced. Admittedly, he was in no hurry to get married again having been burned at an early age. But here comes Robin, and on their first date she point blank asked Phil if marriage was in his future. Not necessarily married to her… but could he see himself being married again? His answer was yes and she continued to explore a relationship with him. The rest is history. They have been married now for decades and have children and grandchildren.
How bold a concept! To talk about marriage on the first date! Robin knew she wanted to be married and decided not to invest time in men who couldn’t see themselves in the role of Husband. How many of us would have been that honest and determined to stick to our own values in the face of a new romantic partner where the tendency is to only present our best selves and not cause any controversy early on.
What is something you really want? Are you bold enough to bring it up to your future or current partner and face possible rejection?