3 Practices To Guarantee A Better Tomorrow
“The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior” I remember many years ago hearing this quote while watching an Oprah show. I have used that quote many times since, especially when talking to my teenagers about curfews, rules and limits. I have stopped using that quote since, because I actually belief that the best predictor of future behavior is current behavior. That changes things a little doesn’t it?
So many of us hold ourselves, our partners, children and friendships in a pattern of not trusting them based on past behaviors. We believe people to be worthy of our time, love and attention based on behavior they have exhibited in the past, rather than the current behavior we are seeing. As a result what happens is that those in our life that matter most rarely get the benefit of our appreciation and gratitude but instead get re-buffed based on behaviors they have exhibited in the past. Whether our partners, children, friends or co-workers, wouldn’t it be wise for us to look at the current behavior, reward that behavior through words of affection, acknowledgement and praise instead. Why? Because we have to pay attention to the things we want to see more of. if we take the “Once a liar always a liar” approach for example, we will in fact always be looking at a liar because it will be that which we are looking for. The universe will always bring us more evidence of what we seeking. Seek goodness and you will find goodness.
How can we create a better tomorrow and free ourselves from believing that the future will bring much of the same as the past did? How can we be in relationships without holding on to past hurts and expecting the same hurts and disappointment in the future?
I have identified three practices that will guarantee that you will have a better tomorrow in your relationships.
Let Bygones Be Bygones
How you say? How do I put aside what he did to me? How can I just get over it? When somebody hurts us, betrays us, cheats on us, lies to us, there is pain, disappointment and grief. I believe that one of the biggest factors that keeps us from holding on to the pain and the stories is our inability to trust ourselves. If somebody does something to you, decide if what the person did is a non-negotiable. Meaning, it is something you know you will not be able to move past. Be honest with yourself on that. If you know you cannot or are not willing to do any work to regain the trust, it is time to move on. If however, you are committed to staying in the relationship, to forgive and do the work to move forward, then leaving that hurt in the past is vital. In the end, the only person you need to be willing to trust is yourself. Trust, that should the person transgress again, you will take appropriate and healthy action on your behalf. If you can truly have faith in your own ability to handle your pain, everything else becomes secondary.
Forgiveness is never truly about the other person. If you are walking around unable to forgive someone for the pain they may have caused you, rarely is that person aware of you still holding on to that pain. Even if they are aware of it, I can guarantee that the pain is infinitely greater on you for the inability to forgive than on the person who caused you the pain in the first place. How do you truly forgive? How do you forgive somebody that is not even sorry? The truth is that the person causing the pain in the first place is really irrelevant in the act of forgiveness. True forgiveness is the deep understanding that the other person did the best they could within their level of consciousness. All of us do the best in any moment of time within our level of consciousness. We can only ever accomplish or behave in a way that is in alignment with where we are in our level of self-development. If something is beyond that awareness, we have a complete blindspot to it and therefore cannot behave differently even if we tried.
I still remember my Spiritual Mentor once said to me after talking about the hurt somebody caused that it was unkind of me to want her to be different or do different. That it is unkind to ask somebody to be someone they are not. Therefore, if somebody causes you pain, recognizing that they did the best they could within their level of consciousness and really understanding the depth of that statement will lead to forgiveness. A good example of this may be a puppy that chews up your favorite pair of shoes. Why can we forgive that? Because we absolutely KNOW that a puppy cannot possibly understand that those were our favorite shoes. A baby soiling a brand new white outfit, does not understand that the stains won’t come out. We know this, so therefore there is no reason to hold on to non-forgiveness. It is the same with adult beings. Our consciousness levels may differ, but we cannot hold on to non-forgiveness once we recognize that they did not have the consciousness or knowingness to do things different.
3. Extending generosity
When another causes us pain, through a misspoken word or deed, extending them the benefit of generosity is incredibly powerful. It means trusting that their hurtful words or deeds where not done with the intent to harm. In those moments, it is incredibly powerful if we can enter into a dialogue that allows them to clarify what they may have meant or what their intention was in the deed. Starting this conversation with “When you said/did this thing you did, the story I wrote about that is…) This is a tactic I first heard Brené Brown speak about and I have used it many times since with family, friends and have taught my clients. When we start the conversation this way, it takes the blame of the other person and opens a path to honest conversation where everyone can be heard. What I have found over and over again, is that rarely are the stories we write about an event the truth. If we can talk about it right away, the story goes away. If we don’t talk about it and allow the story to fester, it grows roots and eventually we allow those roots to take hold and the story we wrote becomes the truth we live by.
Every day, every hour or moment gives us an opportunity to do things differently. In order to change the status quo, we have to make changes. There is tremendous power and freedom in understanding that the quality of the relationships we have are directly impacted by our willingness to see and do things differently.