Have you ever been in an argument with someone meaningful in your life and they shout back: “When you start helping out then I’ll start being nice!” or “If you helped with the kids more I might want to have sex more!” or “If you change your tone I would listen to you!”
While these moments are meant as exaggerated examples, they are also statements that may ring true and have been said between partners. When you boil down the previous statements one of the messages that can be distilled from the remains involve conditions of behavior.
“IF” you do this, then “I’LL" do that. A quid pro quo…
In life and relationships, we actively navigate interactions through conditions of behavior with others in both direct and covert ways.
Take a moment and ask yourself:
- Who do you or don’t you shake hands with?
- Who do you hug? Why them?
- Who pays the check at lunch?
- What do you require to accept love?
- Do you act differently AFTER someone has done something for you?
- What do you require to give love?
- If someone has made a mistake and it involves you, what does it take to forgive them?
- How long does it take for you to apologize? How long do others have to wait?
- What stops you from supporting your partner?
- What enables you to be patient with the kids but not your partner?
- Are you less tolerant with family than with friends? If so, why?
- What does it take for you to open up and be vulnerable?
- What triggers you to shut down, turn away, or explode?
- What do you want from your partner?
- What do you expect from your partner?
Questions such as these and many others become conditions that consciously and sub-consciously enable how you operate or restrict within relationships.
There are several cultural, social, gender, psychological, and other factors wrapped up in each of the previous examples and we could easily spend time exploring the nuances of each. The focus here is on discovering and becoming aware of our own personal conditions and how they impact our relationships.
Carl Rogers, a pioneer in humanistic therapy, advocated for unconditional positive regard as a curative factor in both the therapeutic relationship, as well as, in our personal interactions.
A key to effective healing and interaction, in a relationship, is cultivating the attitude and behavior of being unconditional with others. Aside from personal safety, NO conditions required.
Try it! Attempt to take a non-judgmental stance and be open to others regardless of their situation and allow them to be true to who they are and what they are experiencing.
Take time to investigate and understand what your conditions are and why you may turn away from some and turn towards others. Explore what you expect and what you allow to let go.
Challenge yourself to be true to who you are and how you want to be without requiring something of others first.
Challenge yourself to accept others with kindness and compassion and meet them where they are at without conditions.
Challenge yourself to live without conditions!