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Join date : 2011-05-23
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|Subject: The Embattled Mindset Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:10 pm|| |
We were at an appointment at a local business and the owner, Carol, blurted out, "Do you lock your car while you are here?" We replied, "Yes, always." Carol then continued with what was so obviously on her mind.
"I don't lock mine and my GPS was stolen from my car. I didn't realize it at first, so I said to my husband, 'Jerry, why did you take my GPS from my car?' He said, 'I didn't touch your GPS!' Then I remembered something: A week earlier, I heard a car door close, looked up from what I was doing and saw someone standing near my car. At the time I didn't think much of it. Since I didn't need my GPS that day I didn't connect it but later, I recalled that moment and recognized that at the time I felt that something was off or wrong with that person who was in the parking lot near my car. Then I realized that the person must have taken it."
At that point the two of us reiterated that as a matter of course we simply lock our car – even next to a small local business. It just supports keeping an honest person honest.
Carol replied, "That is what my husband always says."
What we found interesting was not the fact that Carol had been a victim of theft but how she automatically blamed her husband for the missing item in her thoughts and actions. She didn't say, "Jerry, I can't find my GPS for some reason. Have you seen it?" Automatically, mechanically the perpetrator must have been Jerry. When in doubt, blame your spouse.
We are certain that Carol didn't come up with this mindset by herself. In the early years she was enculturated into the blame game. Chances are she saw her mother relate in just such a manner. In many family units, the opposite gender is an adversary and the battle lines are clearly drawn. "If he says do something, then I will do the opposite because it is my life and don't tell me what to do."
It was clear from Carol's way of being that she hadn't even given her attitude toward her husband a second thought. It was as if admitting to herself and to him that he was "right" about something would somehow be a great sacrifice. Her question to us about whether or not we lock our car was a loaded one. She wasn't actually looking to find our perspective but rather was on search to prove her point of view to be the correct one. She wanted to find others of a like mind so that she could go back to her husband Jerry and let him know that "everyone" leaves their car unlocked and that she wasn't really irresponsible. Her question was a part of the fight and she hoped that we would be unwitting soldiers on her side of the dispute.
Carol had so internalized the gender war that she had absorbed while growing up that she didn't even realize that her mindset was embattled and her husband was her adversary. Having known her for some time, we know that she genuinely loves her husband. But we also know that her relationship is played out through an ongoing fight that is unexamined and not even of her own making. Her way of relating is, from her perspective, part of a "normal relationship".
If you want your relationship to thrive, it is imperative that you become interested in the attitudes you bring to it. It is often challenging to look at how we truly think and actually act because it might be embarrassing to really see the truth. But what if you were to take an anthropological approach to how you relate, rather than a subjective, judgmental one? If you were a scientist, looking to see how the inner workings of a culture were put together, you would notate what you see – not judge it. If you bring an active interest, an observational approach to how you have been programmed, then you can "debug" your own personal computer.
Think of yourself as a highly sophisticated computer with archaic programming. Simple awareness is like a complimentary upgrade. If you take what you discover personally, as if you or someone else is to blame for what you find, then you will have jumped right into a problem/solution–change paradigm rather than a transformational one. If you resist what you see about yourself, you will only reinforce the behavior and perhaps even hide from yourself that you have what you consider a "bad" habit. No one likes to see "bad" things about him or herself after all. This is the First Principle of Instantaneous Transformation: What you resist persists and grows stronger and dominates your life. Carol's anecdote is a perfect example of this. She had resisted many things, such as her husband's suggestions to lock her car and the fact that her GPS was stolen. Weeks later her life was still dominated by the event.
The next thing to realize when taking an anthropological approach is that in any given moment you can only be the way that you are. (This is the 2nd Principle of Instantaneous Transformation.) There are many attitudes and ways of relating that each of us have. These are relics of the past – unexamined behaviors that are frozen in place. These ways of being have been handed down from generation to generation and absorbed as a whole during our formative years. They have also been developed by younger, less astute versions of ourselves. Awareness truly is like taking ice and exposing it to the radiant heat of the sun. Ways of being that have been frozen in time can be transformed in an instant. This, of course, is the 3rd Principle of Instantaneous Transformation: Anything you allow to be, allows you to be. Or in other words, anything you see, without judging, completes itself and ceases to dominate your life.
If you don't know to look, you won't see. If you want to keep your magical relationship alive and fresh and wondrous, keep paying attention to your attitudes toward yourself and toward your partner without working on what you discover or judging what you see. Most, if not all, relationships start out with an embattled mindset, but with awareness you can not only see where the battle lines have been drawn but you can easily have those lines fade away so that they no longer exist.