I’m reading Dr. Burns’ book, "Feeling Good Together."
Dr. Burns prescribes a hard pill for us to swallow. Basically, he says we get out of relationships — and life — exactly what we put into them. Because we create the problems that we complain about, we have to accept our role in our conflicts and troubled relationships.
OUCH!!! That’s awfully hard to swallow!
No! That can’t be true! We’re not the troublemakers. We’re the innocent victims in all of this. We can — and are eagerly prepared to — list all the reasons why it’s the other person’s fault and not ours…
And as we relentlessly defend ourselves — and righteously blame others — we prove Dr. Burns right.
Once we accept his diagnosis, it’s up to us to follow his professional advice — which is to actually stop and listen to what the other person is trying to tell us — and find the piece of truth in their criticism… no matter how painful it may be to admit to it.
His book gives examples, encourages us to do exercises, and outlines techniques to effective communication that can diffuse difficult situations.
And as I’m reading the book, I’m struck with the feeling that it’s a lot of work to effectively communicate and diffuse volatile situations — and he expects me to be the one making ALL the effort — while my friends, family, co-workers, etc. are reaping the rewards of all my hard work. How is that fair? Why is it that I’m doing all the work? Shouldn’t there be some give and take in all of this?
Yes, but there are two things to remember in all of this.
The first thing to always remember is: We can’t change others, only ourselves. If we want to change our relationships with others, we have to change ourselves.
And the second thing is: Even though it’s frustrating at times, if you love whomever you’re fighting with, you’ll do what is necessary to diffuse the situation, break down barriers, and become closer to each other.
Even if it means you have to swallow your ego to do it… and that’s such a hard pill to swallow.