I have received such incredible sharing this week in regards to your efforts in the challenge I gave you in last week’s article about: Saying I love you, Thank you, and I’m Sorry.
First off, I am so excited and touched and thrilled and happy for you that you accepted this challenge as you did. It takes a great deal of courage to be willing to look within at old patterns and to then take action to change what needs a tweak (or a major overhaul)! It takes great courage but it’s so incredibly worth it.
The wonderful thing is that those of you who took the plunge and challenged yourself to say “Thank you” and “I’m Sorry” and “I love you” all learned such amazing things about yourself and gave yourself the gift of deeper connections with others. Woohoooo!!!
I know this may come across as shameless CEDRIC promotion, but really, if you’re not already a member of our web program, you really have to join! There is such an amazing community in this program with such incredible sharing and support and the conversations about this assignment and what people are discovering and how they are feeling is fab-u-lous! If you’re not sure it’s for you or you aren’t sure you can figure it out (it’s really easy), I suggest giving it a try for a month and you’ll see for yourself how awesome it is and how supported you feel.
In your emails to me this week and in the web program forum posts, a few themes came up from this assignment that I’d like to address here for you to play around with this week.
Yes. That means I encourage you to keep on keepin’ on with this assignment for the next week and beyond. For those of you who have already experimented with this assignment, that statement is redundant as you’ll naturally be wanting to do it more and more.
One of the key themes that came out of people’s sharing was the experience of reading the assignment and immediately thinking “This’ll be a piece o’ cake” or “This doesn’t apply to me, I already do this just fine.”
Their perception of themselves (as it was for me when I first experimented with this) was of someone who freely says thank you, I’m sorry, and I love you. However, on closer inspection, they discovered that actually, they are quite selective regarding who they say that to and that surprisingly, some very key people, i.e. husbands, parents, and children, are among those they felt least safe expressing their gratitude and love to.
This in and of itself is profound knowledge that can transform all aspects of your life as you notice the situations in which you don’t express yourself fully with others and begin to look a little deeper into why that might be.
There was also a theme of unconsciously looking to the other in the relationship (a major component of co-dependent behaviour) for the okey dokey to be fully loving, rather than challenging ourselves to take the lead in creating the relationships we want. When we set the standard for the open and safe expression of responsibility (I’m sorry), gratitude (thank you), and love (I love you!) in each of our relationships, the response in any healthy connection will always be a heart opening, a deepening of the intimacy and depth and safety between you and the other.
Our old co-dependent training (that creates and sustains many of our food and body image struggles) tells us that we have to follow the lead of the other in the relationship and that if they aren’t saying “it” or doing “it” we best not either. This is sad. This means that we feel completely dependent on the moods and self-awareness of the other and that we can’t fully express our love and gratitude or regret unless they do.
Now why on earth would otherwise intelligent and competent men and women (that’s you!) place all the responsibility for the relationship squarely on the shoulders of everyone but themselves? Well, that’s what co-dependence is. We feel “less than” and obligated to compromise ourselves for others so we don’t even think that we can set the standard in our relationships. It’s what we were taught to do, and until we begin to see it clearly, we don’t even know we’re doing it, let alone understand that we have the ability to change it. So, now you see it. And now you can change it.
In the same way that you’ve been waiting….looking outside yourself for the safety and the thumbs up to be honest, authentic and openly loving, the other people you relate to have almost certainly been doing exactly the same thing!!! That’s because most of us were raised with the co-dependent relationship model and not the interdependent model you’re learning here. So, our relationships become a kind of unconscious, emotional stalemate!
This exercise gives you a chance to see how fearful you are of being real with others about your caring and appreciation and ownership of responsibility. And if you’re willing to trust me when I say that most of the people in your life are just as fearful, then there is a great chance for you to free yourself from this pattern.
Expect from yourself first that which you have been looking for from others.
Be the one to risk first. In the same way that it wasn’t their fault or about them if you didn’t say “I love you” or “I’m sorry” when they did, it’s not about you if they don’t. It’s about them. It’s about their own security and self-confidence or lack thereof. You can help the people in your life to feel safe being more loving and appreciative and to openly take responsibility in their lives by modeling that to them.
Ahhhhhhhh, freedom. The co-dependent, all-or-nothing noose is loosening.
One more key theme from this week’s sharing was that of the belief that saying “I’m sorry” is co-dependent and leads to taking more responsibility or feeling more “guilty” in the relationship than is our fair share.
This certainly can be the case if we’re saying sorry because we think someone is mad at us or that we’ve disappointed someone and not because we actually feel that we erred or violated our own values and principles.
The co-dependent training says that we are responsible for everything – every mood, everything that doesn’t go well. It’s all our fault. In my book Food is Not The Problem: Deal With What Is, I ask readers to challenge themselves to let go of taking responsibility for everything bad or stressful that happens to others. I say, if you’re not willing to do that, you have to allow yourself to take responsibility for everything good that happens for others, too. Since most people see the silliness in that, they also can start to see the silliness in feeling responsible for the moods and needs of others overall.
When I suggest you say “I’m sorry” I’m suggesting that you take responsibility for those things that you know you did that didn’t meet needs for others or which, in hindsight, you would have like to have done differently. You’re not saying you’re bad or wrong or even that they’re right, you’re just saying sorry.
“Sorry I left my shoes at the front door. I appreciate that was annoying to have to step around them. I’ll keep them off to the side next time.”
No big deal. You’re not bad. You’re not stupid. You’re not deserving of verbal or physical harm or passive-aggressive behaviour and silent treatment torture. You did something. It didn’t work so well for the other person or, in hindsight you can see that it wasn’t the most considerate thing in accordance with your values and principles. You own it. You take responsibility. And that’s it.
If the other person wants to make a federal case out of it or keeps bringing it up, you simply say, “I have apologized for what I feel is my responsibility. What is it that you need in order to be able to let this go?”
They will tell you. And you can decide then if it works for you or not.
In most cases, people are so appreciative of your integrity and genuine willingness to take responsibility for your actions that their immediate response is either: “No problem…” or “I’m sorry too…”
Either way, it’s all good!!
This kind of communication is also the fastest way to find out whether someone is more interested in controlling you and pointing out your flaws than they are in loving you and having a close, mutually respectful relationship with you. And you need to know that! Why waste your time in connections that can never be mutually satisfying because the other person is more interested in protecting themselves and pointing out your flaws than in truly connecting with and loving you?
So, keep trucking this week with “I love you,” “I’m sorry,” and “thank you,” every chance you get. Feel the growth and expansion. Feel the intimacy deepen and your sense of confidence blossom. And don’t forget to let me know how it goes!!
Have a fabulous week.