If I was a tennis racket, you could store me in a closet somewhere and forget about me. Sometime later you could decide to take out the tennis racket, and if the strings are still good, you can go for a game. Tennis rackets have no feelings. I do, and I will not allow myself to be treated like a tennis racket in my personal relationships.
And yet, I have friends that I can contact after years, and it is like we have never been apart. What is the difference? When I turned down a recent lunch invitation because it gave me that tennis racket feeling, I contemplated the difference. I know that life gets busy. I often feel I have little time for social life, and I certainly don’t require specific social engagement from my friends. Why was I feeling a need to ensure I wasn’t treated like a tennis racket?
Such a feeling is completely subjective on my part, so it’s important to take a step back and evaluate. Am I simply being emotional? Is this experience triggering some unresolved feeling of neglect it is time to release? I choose to be conscious of my feelings, and value them, without allowing them undue influence on my choices. It’s important to me to be clear about what I’m feeling and to make a conscious choice about my effect. That is my definition of responsibility.
Responsibility: choose your effect
Am I High Maintenance? You Bet!
So if I don’t oblige myself to do specific maintenance on relationships, and I definitely don’t require maintenance from friends, what is the tennis racket issue? Well, tennis rackets are used. The tennis racket that gets tossed in the closet is an object, a tool. A tennis racket is meant to be used. I consider myself a tool for clients, who provide recompense for their access to me as a resource. Being accessed as a resource with the validation of recompense is very different than being used. In my personal life, the forms of recompense are different, and involve fulfillment of my own requirements for myself and my roles. My fulfillment is defined by my requirements, not the behavior of others.
When I make a choice, it has the effect of eliminating the other possibilities excluded by my choice. If I choose coffee, I have eliminated tea or water or juice. To live with inner peace, it is critical to tell the truth of the price of my choices, and the price is in what I have eliminated. Regret, guilt, shame, baggage – there are so many forms of pain that are symptoms of inner conflict about choices made. If I regret the coffee, or regret not having something else, then I am disturbing my inner peace and bringing pain into my life. Since I choose to live a joyful life, I am responsible for resolving any inner conflict in my choices.
I am the only one who decides how I spend the currency of my life. To give something or someone my time, it must fulfill me. If I try to spend my time based on the requirements of others, or the needs of others, I have fallen into the codependent trap that leads to resentment, pain and abuse. I am the only one who decides how I spend my time, so I am the only one who determines how I feel about how I spend my time. I am the only one who can identify my requirements of myself in any type of relationship, so that I can know how to feel fulfilled in my relationships.
If I make the mistake of attributing my feelings of fulfillment, or lack thereof, to other people’s behaviors then I lose my ability to make powerful change in my life. I prefer to own my ability to define my requirements of myself and my relationships, so that I own my ability to have joy and inner peace.
The Price of Mercy Sex
There are so many places that this subtle and important need for fulfillment can come into play. A couple leading busy lives find themselves at the end of the day without any real intimate interaction. We’ll call them Casey and Frankie to avoid gender assumptions.
When Casey makes the gesture that translates into a request for physical intimacy, Frankie may feel used because there has been no connection, no emotional interaction, no courting. Perhaps Casey feels that the relationship qualifies for physical intimacy, without investment, especially when both people are trying to make busy lives work. If Frankie is unreceptive, or rejects, then Casey may feel their contributions in a busy life are not appreciated. Perhaps Frankie feels devalued by the lack of intimacy and courting. Or worse, Frankie suppresses feelings of devaluation and participates in physical intimacy that results in frustration and resentment. Mercy sex, accepting sexual relations with feelings of resentment, are a downward spiral. Sure, there are times when a partner may provide sex out of caring, even when not in the mood – but beware of resentment or feelings of being used – those are a slippery slope to disdain that is a relationship killer.
Living in the Real World
What if it’s your boss that doesn’t treat you like a human being with feelings? After all, you have a mortgage to pay and everyone is preoccupied with a workload that makes it hard to be ‘nice.’ Bottom line, you are paid, and that is the important thing.
Subconscious messages and subliminal signals tell people how to treat you. If you’re thinking that this is how it’s going to be, and you don’t expect better, then your low expectations will be fulfilled. You can learn to change your subliminal signals to change how people treat you – and guess what – it starts with changing how you treat yourself. Where are you on the priority lists of your life? What stories have you told yourself to justify neglecting you? You can change this without breaking your life!
You are not a tennis racket
You are the only one who can make changes for you. Real change starts inside you and manifests in your life. That fact has all the frustration of requiring that you look at your stuff to make changes, and all the power of you being able to make the changes. You don’t need to make someone else do anything. It’s all about your relationship with you. You can do it: you can have a better life.
From the Shop
Responsibility Intensive Workshop Feel your value and your effect.
A guidebook for personal transformation empowering you to make the change you want.
Anchors Away Transformation Workshop
Releasing subconscious anchors that trap pain in you and your relationships.
Love Life Spice Transformation Workshop
Emotional and physical intimacy: be willing and able to want it, get it, enjoy it!
From the Library and Shows
Knowing When to Bite
Discerning the truth of relationship interactions starts with deeper understanding of boundaries.
We’ll Get Together Then The Holistic Missile Show
Releasing pursuer-distancer patterns help protect your relationship from life’s busy-ness.