I’m reposting the following, a piece I wrote several years ago. It is really two posts made into one. It’s part of a series I wrote about commitments. This post will give you a headache if you’re overly attached to your way of thinking. LOL!
Life is change,
growth is optional,
— Karen Kaiser Clark
In our lives we make conscious commitments and they exert a tremendous amount of power over our lives. Of equal importance (maybe even more important) is the power of our unconscious commitments.
What is an unconscious commitment? The way I look at it, an unconscious commitment is an interpretation of reality that is created in early childhood. Whatever we experience in our early years has a huge impact on the types of relationships we seek out as adults. This can be problematic if we are seeking from a foundation based on fear, betrayal, and abandonment.
It is easier to blame our relationship problems on factors outside of ourselves: “He doesn’t listen,” “She nags too much,” etc. In addition, when these patterns appear repeatedly, it is even more tempting to place blame. It follows then that the first step in uncovering our unconscious commitments is to begin to become accountable for our unhappy relationships. At first, this may seem counter intuitive, but the first step to untangling our unconscious commitments is to become aware of them. This takes a certain amount of courage and a lot of love. This isn’t about blaming. Nothing good ever comes from blame. Much of the inner work involves developing compassion.
The second part of uncovering your unconscious commitments is by paying close attention to your habitual complaints. Drs. Kathlyn and Gay Hendricks, in their work with over 20,000 clients, have discovered that what people most often complain about in intimate relationships is identical to their unconscious commitments. For example, let’s say that your number one complaint about past relationships is that your partner(s) were always criticizing you. It may be likely that you are unconsciously committed to bringing critical people into your life (again, I must stress this is not about blaming yourself or anyone else).
Another issue is that unconscious commitments are so powerful that partners can unconsciously notice them and begin to act in ways that will supply what their partner is unconsciously asking for. Have you ever experienced saying to yourself, “Dang, I wasn’t a particularly critical person until I got into this relationship, and yet here I am a full-fledged nag.”
Try this: each time you catch yourself complaining about something, use it as an opportunity to reclaim the power of one of your unconscious commitments. If you can catch yourself in the act of complaining, try to turn it around and ask, “Why would I be unconsciously committed to that?”
It is in the very act of questioning why you might be unconsciously committed to the things you have been complaining about that the real work is done. Katie Byron, creator of “The Work,” has a very powerful technique for uncovering and diffusing our unconscious commitments. The Hendricks also have a guided reflection that helps in this area. I have used a combination of both in my own work with people that I have found very useful. I will share that tomorrow.
For now, try the following:
Your first task: Discover what you complain about.
If you want to stop your unconscious patterns cold, stop complaining. Put yourself on a radical complaint-fast for one day: Don’t allow a single complaint out of your mouth.
Then go a second day, and a third.
Many years ago, I went on a complaining-fast, and my old patterns started to drop away effortlessly. I soon found I could go days and weeks without complaining about anything. Eventually my complaint-fast stretched into years, and by then the miracles were unfolding so rapidly I could scarcely believe it. The circumstances of my life improved so radically that there was nothing to complain about.
My name is Eddie and I’ m in recovery from civilization…