Just the mention of the word… “Compromise” can cause me to curl my lip like Billy Idol. AACK! Seeing our relationship with another person as something that requires us to “give-up” something is about as attractive as eating bugs. No thanks.
I recently read something by marriage therapist Gay Hendricks on this topic that had me saying “YES!” to my computer screen. He was talking about how we have this false belief that relationships take WORK. “The ‘it-takes-work’ idea stems from the fact that two people coming together have differences. That is true, no need to deny it. But where the idea goes off kilter – and causes unhappiness for couples – is the belief that these differences need to be ironed out, compromised with, sacrificed for, and generally worked at very hard if we want to be happy. This is a big FALSE!”
The idea of compromise in relationship has led me to some very unhappy places in those relationships. When we believe that we need to lose ourselves for the sake of our partner OR! When we believe our partner needs to compromise who THEY are to make us happy – we are setting ourselves up for suffering. Compromise implies that you will be getting less, not more. It’s a lot like taking a job you don’t like for the money, or saying yes, when you really want to say no.
If what we desire is a relationship that is free, loving, and causes us to grow – the essence of each person must be recognized and allowed to shine. It’s that part of you that lights you up, makes time fly by, your “sweet spot”. If either person in a relationship feels they aren’t living in their essence or sweet spot – conflicts are going to happen. A lot actually.
I wrote last week about conditional love and how it makes it difficult to feel intimacy. We are always playing out our relationship with ourselves in our relationships with others. So if I have a lack of love for let’s say my physical appearance, I am judgmental toward my body, think it SHOULD be different than it is and I resist loving it because it’s not what I think it should be. I don’t know if you’ve noticed? This approach doesn’t work. It’s painful, hurtful, and does not cause change.
We play out this same scene with others when we treat ourselves this way. If only he would be more loving, if only she would appreciate me, if only he would pick up his dirty clothes, THEN life would be awesome. If we don’t respond to OURSELVES when we make demands or criticize ourselves or think we should be different than we are somehow – why the hell do we think this approach will work with others??? It doesn’t. It causes separation, distance, and kills spontaneity and freedom in our interactions. If it seems like the fun has disappeared from your relationships, take a look at yourself and ask if you are expecting the other person to change in some way. It's a big time fun killer.
Freedom in a relationship comes with really knowing who you are (Awareness), and knowing that other people are never doing anything to you, they’re just doing it. As Tracy McMillan says “Feeling free comes down to loving people (and yourself) right where they are (Acceptance). Since you don’t have any real power over how another person feels, why not just work on setting yourself free and see how that changes the relationships you’re in?” (Practice).
What if: 1.) Instead of seeing your relationship as something you need to be “working on”, you instead shifted to celebrating the differences you have been trying to get someone to compromise on? 2.) Instead of focusing on how you or your partner need to change, you did your own work on accepting YOURSELF?
Feeling loved for who we are is the most beautiful, amazing feeling on the planet. I had the incredible blessing to have experienced this feeling in my lifetime. If that is the feeling we want – to be accepted for who we are and not have to compromise who we are to be loved, we must be at least WILLING to give that to ourselves.
Here’s my suggestion…instead of seeing our relationships as a place either we ourselves or others must compromise – chose a different word that starts with the letter C… Compassion. That begins with making the CHOICE to see them, or ourselves, as they are - and loving them anyway. This is personal empowerment.
For me the challenge is that rather than trying to change someone to be different than they are, or feel differently than they do – to just be WITH them and not take it on personally. We all get to do things the way that is best for us and we all have our own spiritual path to walk. If I can just walk along side that person and be with them without trying to tell them where to go or how to be, I have entered into compassion and love… without compromising my own light.
When we compromise who we are to accommodate another, we have abandoned ourselves. No one outside us is doing this to us. Important to remember the turn-around as well… don’t expect another person to change to be what YOU need. So rather than compromise, try compassion and loving-kindness. Stay true to you and that will cause your light to shine brightly into the world. Allow others to stay true to themselves so they can do the same.
The purpose of a relationship is NOT to dim yourself or to compromise who you are. It is to grow spiritually and personally, to become more as a result of being in the relationship – not less. So my suggestion… notice when you are asking your partner to compromise and see if you can try a sprinkle of acceptance or compassion. You will only be able to do this if you start with yourself. When you become aware that you are compromising who you are, how you feel, what you know is true for you in order to accommodate another person – see if you can show yourself a little loving-kindness. Check in with yourself and see what feels like YOU, the real You.
My man Tony Robbins has a great suggestion about compromise in relationships… “Trade your expectations for appreciation and the world changes instantly.”
Sandy Edie Hansen
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