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The Infinite Journey to Conscious Loving

Gay and Kathlyn Hendricks 12-17

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make a heroic shift out of an old paradigm, the default programming that we’re born into Unconscious Loving to a new paradigm, Conscious Loving. Here’s a quick look at the old and the new paradigms, so you'll know what you're getting out of and getting into.

UNCONSCIOUS LOVING

We repeat the same patterns and problems over and over, and we don’t identify ourselves as the source of those patterns and problems. We spend a lot of time ignoring or recycling the patterns, and expend considerable energy trying to prove somebody else is to blame.

We get defensive in situations where we could get enlightened. Somebody says, "Hey, you’ve got a drinking problem." We reply, "Says who?" They say, "Well, you drove into the driveway last night, ran over the kid’s bike, threw up in the flower bed and peed in your wife’s steam iron." We reply, "Nobody’s perfect, and you're a jerk for ruining my day with your negativity." (Defensive maneuvers: Getting sleepy, bored or tired; getting irritable, hostile or tense; getting fascinated by TV, food, liquor, tobacco, drugs; stonewalling, sulking, withdrawing.)

We have feelings we don't share, or are carrying secrets we haven’t told to the relevant person. (Distinction between secrets and privacy: Secrets are things you hide because you’re afraid of how others would react if they heard them. Privacy is when you keep something hidden because to share it would dilute its personal or sacred nature. Example: For Bill Clinton, Monica was a secret, and the relevant person to tell was Hillary. For Monica, the journal she kept would fit the privacy category.)

We think of ourselves as victims and go back and forth between thinking of others as perpetrators or fellow-victims. In conflicts, we argue from the Victim-Position, casting others as Perpetrators. To resolve arguments, we often join the others in being Fellow-Victims.

Example:

Us: You're ruining my life, you jerk.
Them: No way. You're ruining my life, you jerk.
(Repeat until somebody drops from exhaustion.)
Us: You know what? You and I are okay. It’s the world that’s ruining our lives.
Them: Yeah! Here, have a brewski.

We don’t express our full creativity, and have a variety of reasons, many of which are excellent, why we’re not doing so.

CONSCIOUS LOVING

The new paradigm is built on the earlier foundation described in our earlier books such as CONSCIOUS LOVING. In that book, two principles occupied center stage: The Authenticity Principle and The Responsibility Principle. The Authenticity Principle holds that relationships only flourish when both people speak the microscopic truth. If any relationship problem recycles, look for the significant truth that has not yet been spoken. If the microscopic truth is not spoken (for example, "I didn’t have sex with that woman") a costly and tiresome melodrama usually occurs in the aftermath of the lie.

The Responsibility Principle holds that relationships only flourish when both people take 100% responsibility for any issue that arises. By contrast, most people try to apportion responsibility, which always leads to blame, conflict and power struggles. For example, a repetitive conflict about money only resolves when each person claims full responsibility by asking, "Even if it looks like my partner’s problem, in what ways am I contributing to the perpetuation of this problem?"

EMERGENCE OF THE NEW PARADIGM

Now, two new principles take relationship transformation into a new dimension: The Commitment Principle and The Appreciation Principle. These principles hold powerful keys to an ongoing problem in human relationships: How to free individual creativity while simultaneously bringing both partners into greater harmony.

The Commitment Principle: Every relationship problem is rooted in an overlooked commitment issue, and if this issue is addressed correctly it becomes a springboard to a profound breakthrough in closeness and individual creativity. The principle holds true even if the two people involved in the conflict have been in relationship for decades. It also applies to boardroom as well as bedroom relationships. By analyzing hundreds of conflicts, we discovered that the problem often began with a withheld commitment. In other words, someone (or sometimes all parties) did not fully commit. Once we made this discovery, we worked out a simple way to find where the commitment problem was located and a technique for moving through the impasse rapidly.

The Appreciation Principle holds that relationship problems begin in an "appreciation gap," a specific place where a break occurs in the ongoing flow of appreciation. In the absence of a felt-sense of appreciation ‹given and received, spoken and unspoken) a host of energy-draining problems ensue. After discovering this principle, we designed a simple set of appreciation activities, which anyone can do.

In Conscious Loving, we do things very differently than in the old paradigm:

If a pattern or problem repeats itself, we look for the source of the pattern in ourselves, even if another person looks like the main character in the drama. Example: Even if your partner is the one who’s come home drunk every night for the past sixteen years, the conscious person thinks, "Hmmm, how am I inviting this sort of behavior in my life?" and "Hmmm, who was it that didn’t kick him/her out fifteen years and 364 days ago?"

We commit ourselves to learning, instead of getting defensive, in every interaction. We get skilled at thanking people and the universe for giving us feedback, instead of punishing them. "Thanks for pointing out my drinking problem. From my actions (the bike, the flower bed and the steam iron), it appears I’m out of control."

We make conscious commitments, and hold ourselves scrupulously to those commitments. We commit to things that are within our control, such as telling the truth and taking responsibility, not to things that can't be controlled (promising to love the person always, promising we'll never do it again, etc.)

We tell the truth, and give enough detail so that the relevant other person fully understands. Bill: "Yes, indeed, I had sex with that woman. The first five times were fun and titillating, although I didn’t ejaculate, but the last two times were ho-hum even though I did. I feel guilty as hell and scared you won’t like me."

We take full responsibility for what happens in our lives, and seek out relationships with others who also take full responsibility. In a conscious relationship there are no power struggles because each person takes 100% responsibility.

We commit ourselves to full creative expression. If we're fully engaged in our own creativity, we don't have time to accuse others of oppressing it.

We speak appreciations frequently. Examples: I appreciate you for helping Kevin with his spelling last night, I appreciate the way you look today, I appreciate your sense of humor.

SUPER-CONSCIOUS LOVING

We’ve found that it’s possible to take a rapid ride to hitherto-unimaginable relationship heights by adopting one very radical concept and practicing one very simple technique.

The Concept

Stop focusing on problems, difficulties and issues for a period of time (a month is a good period of time to start with) and instead, focus only on expressing appreciations to your partner (or to anyone else you want to be close to, such as children or co-workers.) At the end of the period of time, you can always go back to focusing on problems if you want to. However, most people find that expressing appreciations clears up even long-standing, recurring problems that nothing else has budged.

The Technique

Step One
Choose a heartfelt commitment to making the expression of appreciation your top creative priority. In other words, choose to regard thinking up and delivering appreciations as your highest art form. A year or so ago, I (Gay Hendricks) chose appreciating Katie as my highest priority art form. Until then, I regarded my writing as my highest priority art form. I decided to put as much time and energy into noticing things I appreciate about her, thinking up ways to appreciate her and delivering appreciations to her as I did to my writing. To my delight, our relationship took a quantum jump (it was already great!) to absolutely transcendental. To my great surprise, my writing became even more fun and productive.

Step Two
For one month, put your focus on one major activity: Think up and deliver appreciations as often as you can, but at least ten to twenty times a day. Focus mainly on verbal appreciations, appreciation-by-touch and telepathic whole-body appreciations. Use material appreciations sparingly if at all.

At the end of the month, evaluate the level of positive energy that’s flowing between you.


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