How You Can Come From the Positive and Feel Contented in Your Relationships
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PHIL: There are many things I would like to change, from our garden to global warming, but our relationship is not on that list. Why does it make me feel so content? Because it provides everything I feel I need. Not the physical needs of air, water, food, shelter, but the social needs of feeling loved, trusted, accepted and being treated fairly.
We all believe that the motives of another person match our own. If we are prone to white lies, we think other people might shade the truth. If we are prone to cheating, whether at cards or at love, we are on the lookout for the same behavior in others. In other words, projection. It can’t really be otherwise; the only way we can guess the internal motivations of another is to assume our own.*
And so to trust those feelings of being loved and accepted by Maude, I must have those same feelings within myself. This is the path to contentment: to have the same feelings for others that you want for yourself, which is rather like the Golden Rule. It creates a positive feedback loop: the more content we both are, the more we trust, accept and love each other.
* For the sake of completeness, I must add that there are bad people with motivations I cannot understand; I can only explain their behavior by assuming they are driven by a lack of empathy.The path to contentment is to have the same feelings for others that you want for yourself #quote Click To Tweet
MAUDE: How do you achieve peaceful harmonious relationships? Let us count the ways… Well, actually that’s exactly what we do in our blogs, and today is no different as we ask, “What goes into making you content within your relationships?”
For Phil and I, our strong sense of contentment arises from our basic social needs being met, like love, trust, acceptance, and fairness. We express ourselves with kindness, respect, and the desire to support each other’s well-being balanced with the same feelings toward ourselves.
This desire to treat each other as we want to be treated is a deep seated motivation for us both. We rest in the assurance of this pull toward finding mutual solutions and reciprocity of goodness. What you see in yourself, you often see in the other. This leads us to always come from the positive in responding to each other; in the way we hear and interpret each other’s words and actions. We presume the best of each other.
This engenders a circular and loving feedback loop. It is less of a linear back and forth and more a round and round, with our knowledge of the goodness we desire for each other pervading the experience of the way we see how we are treated. If I find myself veering from this positive way of hearing and seeing Phil, I stop and ask myself what is happening. What is causing the emotional jangle? The answer often lies with me, and this self-reflection is a rich field of growth.
If I cannot find the why within myself, I speak in a non-accusatory way about my feelings to Phil, with no defensiveness, with a calm respectful tone of voice, and with full assurance that I will be heard in the context I am communicating. This is based on the positive feedback loop I referred to earlier.
There is a basic reframing necessary to create this kind of peace and contentment within your relationships. It’s most successful when there is a mutual understanding of this intention, but even without that, you can chose to come from the positive in your behavior as well as your responses. Do not underestimate this powerful force. It creates a loop that will often draw the other person in, and regardless of that, it will always leave you feeling content.
Photo credit: Maude Mayes
Photo note: Two Mourning Doves on our garden bench
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Thank you for these insights. I listened to this three times so I could say something intelligent in response. I realized that it does no good to expect others to reframe their minds toward a more positive attitude about a given situation if I am not willing to reframe my own…actually, it’s more like allowing God to reframe my perceptions so I can see a new way of being in that situation.
Dear Maude and Phil,
Thank you for your fabulous writing. It is so true that observing our own behavior and acknowledging our thoughts, behavior and projections is so important. Thank you! Always grateful for your kind and inspiring blog.
Again, totally understandable when read, but also again, not something that we would think about unless read. As I read the “feedback loop” comment and the “projection” comment, I am reminded of an aspect of Vipassana meditation training. We are to see things as they really are not as we want them to be, and, to be aware of what our body may be telling us if we are tuned in and listening (tension, coiling, ready to react) before we actually react to something – perhaps in a hurtful way. To become an observer as well as a participant. Not always so easy but so necessary. Anyway, thank you for sharing your wisdom – always a lot to think about and always positive and encouraging. Wouldn’t it be nice to make your efforts available as a resource to family courts – perhaps an an integral part of resolving spousal difficulties? Just a thought.