If you have negative behavior patterns and a loved one is trying to improve those patterns out of love, that's one thing. But often times I see the behaviors requiring improvement are not based on that at all. People in various types of human relationships will have this idea of what they expect those around them to be and they will give with strings that somehow become very strong and heavy cables wrapped around your neck and heart and if you want or need anything from them, you have to be incredibly mindful of the cables and strings or its conflict time. We walk into these situations unwittingly. Sometimes there is enough good coming out of the interaction that a little modification for someone else is really not a huge deal. Take someone who liberally sprinkles the F-bomb into every conversation regardless of who they speak to. Curbing that personal habit or preference in certain company to be polite is not a big deal if it is okay to the f-bomb dropper. But, if it isn't, the f-bomb dropper may have to find different company to hang out with. The f-bomb is just a word and the offense people take in it has nothing to do with the person who uses this very creative word to express themselves really.
Take another example. Someone naturally has a tendency to question everything around them, including why everybody around them walks their path the way they do, likes to point out every error in judgment and misstep and takes a bit of pleasure in the finding of issues. Such a person may be faced at some point with a request to behave differently around those who have no appreciation for such behavior.
Another example, take a partnership where one partner feels his or her status and self-worth is derived from how their partner speaks or behaves and so requires that partner to dress in a way or speak in a way that gives them a comfortable level of ego boost in order to show love to that partner.
These situations all have a common theme and that is that one party has decided that the other must behave differently in order to be around them. It's a tough thing on both parties on the surface until you get very brave and dig down deeply. Every person has the right to be who and what they are without judgment, without forced change thrust upon their behavior to get love and without being belittled for not being other than who they are. Likewise, people have the right to be surrounded by those that make them comfortable, support and uplift them. We have to take a cold hard look at who we have in our lives and why. What do we gain from the presence of others and what do we have to learn from others? If we find f-bombs vulgar, we can choose to be around only those individuals that don't use those words. If we require others to modify their behavior around us, we start getting into sticky territory. I think of my own situation with a family member. This family member gives love with heavy duty cables and steel strings. Likewise, this family member will acknowledge love only if given in very specific ways. Never mind how you express love naturally, it will not be accepted as good enough if not provided very specifically on their outlined, heavily written about and often proclaimed loudly - terms.
We all have choices to make. Rather than expecting people to twist and contort themselves to be in our presences or dealing with those who demand or expect you to twist and contort yourself into something you are not - it is decision time. The answer is simple - Either walk away and find those you do not have to twist and contort or those who do not demand you twist and contort or decide where you will stand up for yourself and draw boundaries or where you think its not unreasonable to compromise. It's not rocket science but I'll tell you the ego dives into these situations and creates all manner of mischief. Sometimes I think that the ego is the source of our own built-in darkness and ignorance. We must battle that evil in all kinds of ways in order to come to peace, see and understand things with a little more light. No situation has the absolute correct answer as human needs differ but if you do not find a way to become wholly knowing, accepting and loving with yourself, there is no way for you to know what compromise you can make without causing harm to yourself or where you are causing harm to others with your requests.
So, I'm not here to judge any parties as you may have surmised right now. I'm here to point out there is a space of common conflict that different people will bring about for various reasons. We all have to decide what is right for us and what isn't. What I never, ever recommend though, is that you hang out with people who will not accept you as you are. I also don't recommend that you hang out with people you cannot accept exactly the way they are. Just like you should not have to change who you are to be loved, respected and appreciated, you should never require that others change who they are to win your love, respect and appreciation. If you can't find that space with others, move on to those you can find that space with IF your goal is to come to peace and understanding. As I said, this one isn't easy but if you honor some rules, you can get through them without experiencing or causing as much pain. Free will - your free will ends at your person. The free will of another ends at their person. When two come together and their free will is at odds, someone must compromise for the interaction to continue or decide the conflict is not worth the effort and depart. If the ego did not get involved needing to be right at the expense of others, this concept would be so simple to embrace. But the ego does exist and what a fine teacher it can be in these situations.
So, enough of my thoughts on this topic for now. I did my best not to lean a certain direction on purpose and I hope that has come through. I have, as we all have, been the person required to twist and contort and also the one who expected others to twist and contort. Neither feels good at the end of the day for me and so I do not engage in them. I will not twist and contort and if others violate my ethics and integrity with their being, I choose to respect them and not hang out with them. Having said that, I know others who do a fantastic job at negotiating these situations rationally. There is no right or wrong here. There is just an action and a consequence each must decide whether it works or doesn't for them. The secondary message I always like to convey is to be who you are and to love yourself regardless of what anyone expects of you. If people want something from you that you cannot live up to, say so and let go of the matter. Just move on. There will be no shortage in your life for situations to crop up with others you can learn from that are maybe a little more similar to you and perhaps more tolerant or understanding. Do be wary of love given with strings though. These have the potential to create much pain for all involved.
So, that's it...I'm done with my morning thoughts on twisting and contorting or requesting same. Life is all about actions and corresponding consequences for learning. Be aware and more importantly, be very self aware. You can find the light in any darkness you find yourself in. Just trust in that belief until you have experience enough under your belts to know this as truth. Blessings of love and light beautiful dreamers!
(c) 2012 Jaie Hart (photo, random internet find)