“Humans were capable of so many amazing things, but too often they just sit making words, not doing anything” – A Dog’s Purpose
We’ve all heard of the golden rule: “treat others as you would like to be treated”. Most decent people try to practice that as best they can. But believe it or not, it’s actually not the best strategy for our closest relationships.
Because it assumes that what other people think, want, need, and feel, are the same as what we think, want, need, and feel. The truth is: sometimes they do and sometimes they don’t. So how do you know when they do or don’t?
Ask what they like. Ask what they don’t like. Ask what hurts them. Then listen to what they have to say. Now, take your turn and do the same. Tell them what matters to you. What you like and don’t like. What you want, need, and what hurts you. Teach the other about you and let them teach you about them.
This is the platinum rule: treat others as they would like to be treated, not as you would.
Then try as best you can to follow it: with one caveat.
It’s not your job to always do what the other wants you to do. There’s a difference between “doing and treating”. You are not responsible for taking care of all the other’s needs and pain. The same goes for them. That’s care taking, which in time, will suck all that was once precious out of any relationship. Following the platinum rule means you understand that the “other” is both connected to and separate from you. And while no one can always be 100% attuned to this unique arrhythmic relational dynamic, understanding that it’s there and holding the intention to follow it, will create a much richer connection between you and your partner.
Here’s an example: you like to be hugged. Your partner prefers handshakes. So instead of hugging them, why not shake their hand?
Now, If you want a hug from them, ask them if they can do that for you. If they can- awesome!
If they can’t, then ask them why. If what they say makes sense and works for you – great. If it doesn’t, well, then a new problem arises – and here’s where many get into trouble. They try to make the other do what they want so they can get their needs met. They think the other needs to follow their rule.
Except that rule (founded in some deeply held belief that’s actually not true) is not golden, silver, platinum or lead. It’s rust. And it’s death to the soul: yours and theirs.
Trying to make someone hug you when they don’t want to, stay with you when they want to leave or anything else that’s not aligned with the other’s heart or soul’s purpose, wreaks havoc on everyone closely connected to the “rule makers and breakers” in that relationship. It’s a fool’s gold where dysfunction and chaos, only creates more dysfunction and chaos.
Putting anarchy aside, it’s important to remember that there’s no such thing as perfect. People find each other by missing each other. And sometimes they need to miss each other a lot, before they can really find each other and start again.
And should they choose to do that, they can then trust in the other and relax. They will know that no matter what happens to them, or what life throws their way, if they can commit to following the aforementioned rule, all we be well.
Not only will they be able to talk about doing so many amazing things together, they will actually do them with platinum success.
My new book: Finding Hope in the Crisis: A Therapist’s Perspective on Love, Loss, and Courage has hit the book stands! Learn more about it by clicking here or visit www.mauraamatarese.com
Originally published at www.mauraamatarese.com