Commitment requires perseverance: doing what you agreed to regardless how you feel about it. If I say yes to something healthy I do it because I committed to it. If I say no to something destructive, I stick to it regardless how hard it is or how I feel about it.
The thing that Rod and I see so many times that trumps commitment we call "scripts." They can so often get in the way. A script is a cluster of rules we or someone else holds us to that are not talked about, they are just formed over time. The dos and don’ts of emotional reasoning. They are often unreasonable and fear driven and can provoke strong emotion when those rules in the script are not followed. They can create perfectionism or, as we call it, "performing to belong." Interestingly enough although the script often is not established verbally, all of the players in a relationship or family can independently recite them verbatim. They are reinforced by behavior and reaction.
Case in point. We were counseling with a couple just this morning at Human Art. They actually wanted us to blog part of the session as an example of this. They requested that we include part of their story because it was helpful in working toward resolving their script. It was causing havoc in their marriage.
Husband: Sometimes my script feels like the conditions I need to meet for acceptance or worth. If I do not follow the script exactly, I feel like a failure or I may be rejected altogether. I think sometimes I get so preoccupied with the script that nothing else matters. I kind of lose the moment or parts of myself. It’s like I lost myself somewhere along the way. Today in session, I can see that if my wife doesn't, mirror my script, I will fight for it. Today, I can see that the script is not really what I want. I want a living, spontaneous relationship which anticipates and honors each other's dreams and preferences.
Freeze right there. Wow. This is exactly what we are talking about. The husband identified his script and now he is choosing perseverance. But how? It's easy to say “I choose it,” but how do we change that quickly; to just throw out the script and do what?
That's where you go to your authentic self—your design. This time is different though, because this time you pick what you want from any of the four designs. We all have all four so no matter what our predominant design is we just simply pick the one that will work best right now.
If you choose Saturated: Be clear and competent. Like a strong leader. State what you need to yourself and others. Be clear and spot on the goal and keep it simple.
If you choose Whitened: Use your ability to enroll. Like a good friend. A Mother Teresa of sorts. Get close and anticipate needs. Serve yourself and the others around you. You cannot help but love those you serve.
If you choose Grayed: Be methodical. Like a researcher. Describe then listen. Be curious and have a need for the details and connections. Every point is important. Take time and be thorough. Go over everything and talk it out again and again (especially the listen part) until you find common ground and understanding.
If you choose Blackened: Change the compartment in your brain. Compartmentalized thinking is boxes of expectation. Don't change the box change the meaning in the box. Strong expectations provoke strong commitment so when you change the meaning in the box you change the expectation and that changes the commitment. Just like a bulldozer. It will knock down the expected box but it can also build up a great foundation. It all depends on the orders of the contracted. Be the contractor and build the relationship you want and need and stop knocking down random boxes with the script.
We asked the husband which design he picked to jump start his commitment and the process of perseverance. He said he chose the Grayed. He really wanted to understand fully what his wife was feeling. He said it makes him feel good to open up and make room for other important details other than the script. The script felt so confining and opening up feels freeing.
Wife: My script was just to love my husband and take life as it came; script and all. I just wanted to do it together. I opened up my heart and was vulnerable to him and I guess I just feel a little foolish when he has to withhold emotions in order to accommodate the script. I understand it logically. It emotionally is uncomfortable an confusing. I feel out of control.
See the details were important. A short statement but so much information to be explored.
When we asked the wife which design she picked to jump start her commitment and the process of perseverance she said that normally she would pick the Whitened because she was predominantly Whitened but this time she wanted to pick the Blackened (What? That was a surprise but so helpful at the same time). She said she normally does not use expectations. She just goes with the flow. When she does have expectations she usually doesn't verbalized them a lot. But she could see where stating expectations to strengthen the relationship brought order and commitment on both parts, felt healthy and left her feeling equally in control. Now she is strong to understand and free to be open but also available and committed to the healthy relationship.
I encourage you to work on getting the script out and real commitment back in the relationship. It does take perseverance. We can all appreciate this couple and their commitment and perseverance because we all can relate. We all have good healthy relationships and we all have those we need to commit more to. You can do just that.
Run back to who you are. Run now and run fast. Scripts will not serve you. They lead to perfectionism and performing to belong, which never did or never will produce closeness. So run back to your authentic self. You can change unhealthy relationships and turn them into the healthy ones you have always wanted and dreamed of. They will still be with the people you already love they just will look different—better! You can do it if you hold on to yourself. Grab one of the designs that is a part of you that you know will work. Do it now. You will find more peace, more happiness and feel free. And always remember you are important to someone. So make it count.
Everyone is a masterpiece!