Picking up on yesterday's post regarding reliability and expectation - today let's explore how it's possible to guarantee reliability for yourself and experience satisfaction in any situation!
When we take actions personally – whether those of others or our own – we give away all of our power to the circumstance that is really out of our control.
Say you expect that your husband to take out the trash Monday night. When he doesn’t, do you get mad? Stop talking to him? Let the trash pile up? Take the trash out yourself (and grumble the whole way, considering whether or not you’ll put a clean bag in the bin or perhaps intentionally omit that step to highlight the forgotten [or ignored] task in hopes of inducing cooperation through guilt)?
Consider why you think your husband should take out the trash and what you are making it mean when he doesn’t. That he is lazy/forgetful/inconsiderate? That he knows you’ll just do it anyway? That he ignores everything you say?
Ask yourself if the objective is to feel seen and heard by your husband OR if it is to have the trash out on time so it will be picked up and the outside bin emptied. And, if it is the latter, if it is worth all the drama of tying the initial objective into this task.
Is there opportunity to create connection or disconnection through this small task? Absolutely. But make sure you are clear that the connection comes not because your husband took out the trash, but because of your thought about it and, in exactly the same way, the disconnection comes not because your husband did not take out the trash but because of your thought about it.
For example, we could have the common situation of “husband took out trash” and one spouse might think, “He must really care about me” while another spouse might think, “It’s about time, that’s the least he could do…and look - he didn’t even put a clean bag, doesn’t he know that is the most annoying thing ever!?!”
We could also have the common situation of “husband didn’t take out the trash” and one spouse might think, “he’s been so busy at work, he probably doesn’t even realize tomorrow is trash day” while another spouse might think, “here we go again – not like he doesn’t know it’s Monday today!!!”
Before you all double check that trash is indeed taken out and clean bags are in all the bins, stay with me one moment longer. It’s not about the trash – the trash example just shows us how we can make a situation tolerable or torturous, awesome or awful – not by changing anyone’s behavior, but by changing our thoughts.
What does this mean for reliability? It was extended to me once that, “the only person you can rely on is yourself.” In that moment, being the person who did not meet the expectations of another, I took this as a personal attack, assuming it as a failure on my part. Knowing now what I do about thoughts/expectations/guidebooks/rules for others, I receive this sentiment differently.
While we can certainly have expectations and, when met, deem a person reliable or unreliable, we have absolutely no control over anyone else’s actions. We do have 100% control over our response and are free to decide how we continue to interact with that person, if at all. We are free to decide what responsibilities we are willing to assign to another person, knowing that their completion of tasks is ultimately up to them and not us and decide in advance what our response will be. Ultimately, recognizing this power in our own thoughts can relieve some of the angst felt when there isn’t ideal alignment between our expectations and their results.
For ourselves, if we acknowledge that our thoughts become our results, we can see that our reliability is always entirely within our control. By setting our expectation (thought!) with intention and awareness of feeling it creates, we can direct our actions toward the desired result.
The amazing opportunity with this approach:
100% capacity for self-reliability
100% opportunity for satisfaction in any situation
100% control through thought
May we learn to trust ourselves as we accept responsibility for our actions, free of the angst of agenda for others as we realize ready availability of our inherent reliability to find satisfaction in situation.
If you need more support putting these concepts into action, schedule a session with me to take the next steps on the path to ultimate reliability!