I created this reference list, sort of an easy one to refer to when your goal is to produce a non-violent outcome in a relationship.
This kind of a handy-dandy list would help you in the midst of a WWIII scramble with your partner or in deciding if you want to get out of Dodge or play patty-cake.
As an example let’s examine the words caring vs. careful.
What makes the distinction between the words “caring” rather than “careful?”
If you are truly caring, your intention and actions are already in alignment.
If you are careful, more than likely you are tiptoeing on eggshells, protecting yourself or errantly believing you are protecting the other person.
The word careful should be used when handling a breakable “object,” not a human being.
How to recognize someone being “careful” in how they deal with you? The first sign is how your relationship is stuck in neutral. Strategy is taking place, not emotional bonding. You may feel squeezed to death as you live in this airtight container with no room to breathe making it rather painful.
You cannot carefully handle a person; no one wants to be “handled” or “put in a corner.”
Let’s make further distinctions in word usage.
Waiting vs. Patience: I used to say: “Patience is not my virtue.” And yes, it is missing from my annual list for Santa too.
As I have gotten older, I find patience is necessary, like cotton for my ears in some situations.
Patience may be defined as active, a willingness; waiting is to be inactive and anxious.
We need patience to deal with delays in an anticipated outcome and in avoiding jail time when it comes to our relationships. Waiting creates irritation, anxiety and an overall sense of wanting to rip your hair out of your head or that of someone you love. It is at its basest, a sense of entitlement to a “must have” like a Louis Vuitton bag, our perfect vision of an outcome.
Compartmentalize vs. Open Heart: When you compartmentalize your life, feelings or a person, you can be assured that you are in a state; imagine your own private Idaho. You’re able to put all possible emotions into the nearest kitchen drawer and not deal with reality. It’s kind of like a magic trick, like pulling rodents out of funny places, though you ain’t foolin’ anyone.
Open-heartedness recognizes life in the very moment it is happening (not yesterday or tomorrow). I like to see it as the spaceship has landed and you are emotionally present with all of your antennae calibrated to the here and now. The bonus to open-heartedness is the possession of emotional resiliency and the ability to be compassionate and loving with your mate.
Supportive vs. Callousness is a doozy of a word comparison. Supportive, like support hose, doesn’t judge or carry a backpack full of resentment; it allows, accepts and appreciates. It doesn’t have to agree; it just has to “be.”
Callousness is not the same as what is on the bottom of one’s foot. We are talking about a person who is fed up, angry as a wildebeest and ready to make their partner a hood ornament. Callousness can come off as aloof, disrespectful, insensitive or just plain mean. It is created by a build-up of unexpressed or unheard verbal vomit.
If you are in a somewhat healthy relationship, you are communicating and, ahoy, your matey hears ya loud and clear! There is no projectile vomiting necessary. There is also no rule saying action from your partner will follow, so you gotta figure what is acceptable to you; some of us will drink the milk a day past its spoilage date.
At times in a relationship, change may come just as a tooth fairy leaves change under your pillow or not; if you choose to stay and have a standoff, hoping the tooth fairy would appear, you have no one to be responsible for your vomit but you.
Demanding vs. Asking sounds the same to some; not only is there a tone and decibel difference, there is a word usage difference too. “Waa Mommy, waa anyone who isn’t covering their ears, you better give into what I want, now!” And that’s always a good time for all, which leads to crazy good will on the receiving end of your tantrum.
Asking is a little daintier and like Mary Poppins said, everything goes down easier with sugar. Asking is without attachment to the outcome. Demanding is always an attachment to the outcome.
Commitment vs. The Hokey Pokey. Okay, I know, this one takes a bit of explanation and because there is a second part to this article, I thought I would end this on a fun note.
Commitment, you have both feet in and dance your partner around in your relationship. The Hokey Pokey you have one foot in, one foot out, put one hand in and you shake it all about; um yeah, dancing all around, inside, outside and all around the relationship itself. Going nowhere fast, just in and out and all about!
Commitment to the relationship (and if you like, the other person too) allows for security and simplicity, because you know in what country you are standing. Your partner is willing to learn your language and travel with you in this country too. If you are both committed to a healthy relationship, you put your egos aside and resolve issues, agree to disagree and always, always, always know the goal is love. Do you love this person? Yes. Then act like it!
The Hokey Pokey is a dance of negativity in a relationship; whatever country you travel to could be covert or a difficult language that your partner may not understand, “vous mettez votre pied gauche dans” or “þú setur vinstri fótinn í.” The Hokey Pokey isn’t about fidelity, intimacy, personal growth, happiness or adventure. It’s about sticking your body parts in and out, gyrating in a circle going nowhere.
So, do yourself a favor: learn the Samba, listen to some sexy flamenco music and communicate with your mate using these suggestions for your vocabulary. If you use the proper vocabulary often enough, the tooth fairy may show up and give you some much-needed change.
edited by Greg Eckard
Tracy Crossley is a hyphenate: female, writer, curiosity quencher, artist, poet, gardener of real gardens and existential ones, clairvoyant, momma to grown ups, life coach and real, imperfect chick. Love life, even days when I don’t like it and appreciate, appreciation for everything. Website: www.13degreez.com and Blog: 13degreez.wordpress.com.
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