Evolutionary Blog

Distinctions to accelerate your personal and professional evolution

Agreements for Healthy Relating | Agreement 1: Truth Over Comfort

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The Four Agreements

From Chance to Wisdom 

In my experience, there are four agreements that are necessary as foundations for any healthy relationship regardless of the context - meaning it doesn't matter if it's a professional context, if it's friendship, or if it's sexual, intimate, and romantic.

In fact the more intimate it is the more important I think these agreements are, but unfortunately - and paradoxically - the less likely someone is to actually be willing to have the conversation that’s required. That's for many reasons, most of them self-esteem issues are at their source and fear-based.

Let me explain: If we are attached to the hope that someone will like us, to the degree that it becomes a need for their approval and therefore induces fear in ourselves, and/or we have scarcity around whether or not we will actually find somebody who is a fit, or whether or not we can find someone else if a relationship does not work out, we have a tendency to overlook things that we know are important to address because if the person doesn't like us then we may take that personally in the case of a self-esteem issue, or we don't want to set up any barriers to them liking us or connecting with us.

But in doing so, we skip over critical foundational steps - and virtually assure we end up with someone who is not a fit or find ourselves in a conflict without the agreement reality as to how we find our way out of it and get back into connection.

So we ignore wisdom in favor of the immediacy of false connection - so as to not "rock the boat". At its worst, of course, this borders on codependency and external validation and that a path that if you continue down that road leads to frustration, heartache, and worse.

However if we have an abundance mindset - a certainty that there are plenty of people out there who might be a fit for us - and fit is more important than not being alone - we understand that it's easier to find somebody who's a fit that it is to deal with the frustration and challenges and eventual heartbreak of someone who is not a fit, and we are internally validated in terms of our esteem for ourselves, then we choose wisdom over chance.

The reality is we are actually choosing wisdom and communication over something much worse than chance: predictably negative results.

When do I lay out these agreements?  On the first date.

Some people may fret at this moment - and they are worried it is too late - they already skipped over these agreements and find themselves in the quagmire of shoulds and implicit agreements and unstated yet clear expectations you never agreed to. That can be an icky and frustrating place.

But don’t fret: you can transform any relationship - or “reboot” or - or start over from scratch and begin to date someone again - you can use the agreements as a way to transform friendships - I have. I have used the agreements and the conversation around them to bring years-long friendships back to life.

We’ll talk about skillful means - how most effectively to do that - after we lay out the agreements and flesh them out fully.


The Agreements

Four Foundational Agreements For Healthy Relating

  1. We tell the truth and we hear the truth and we value truth over comfort
  2. We do not hold anyone accountable to agreements they have not made
  3. If we are upset, we make a request (for a new agreement)
  4. We accept that we are responsible for our own experience and our own emotions.
    1. Make no assumptions
    2. Don’t make anything up

Let’s examine each of these agreements fully.

Agreement 1:  Truth Over Comfort

The first agreement is that we tell the truth and we hear the truth and we value truth over comfort. 

The “comfort” might be our own, or it may be the comfort of others.

Here is an excellent standard: if we are afraid to say it - or afraid that somebody can’t hear it or might take it personally - that’s probably the very thing that should be said. 

And as I am sure you have experienced, the longer we delay the telling of that truth, the bigger it becomes in our mind and the worse it will be when we tell them - for the relating, for our internal anxiousness around sharing it, and for them when they find out how long we delayed; telling the truth brings relief for all without delay. There may be broken agreements to clean up - something we will address later on in this book, but that aside, telling the truth should increase intimacy and connection. 

Hearing the truth - if done openly and spaciously - always will.

Telling the truth is not an excuse to be a jerk.

There is a popular theme in some circles where someone is a jerk (that is a technical term) and they finish it off (or begin it) with “I am just speaking my truth”.

That is not in alignment with the spirit of this rule - because most often “speaking your truth”  is just being self-indulgent. The spirit of this rule is to increase intimacy and to increase connection. Thus, we want to tell the truth with skillful means - meaning in a way that honors both ourselves, yet delivered in a way the other person is best able to receive it.  As well as caring for the relating or the relationship - the 3rd entity that is created by the synergy of the two of you.

Why is this so important?  Relationships begin to die in the unsaid.

The grass isn't always greener on the other side of the fence; the grass is always greener where it is tended to, cared for, and nurtured.

If there is enough unsaid in the relationship, you are not even relating to the human in front of you anymore - you are relating to all the stuff you have not said, or do not think you can say - and that shows up as being distracted, shut down, simply not present, or simply being silent. So instead of relating to the dynamic and vibrant human in front of you, you are simply in your head about … all the things. 

That build-up - that residue - kills true intimacy.

And yet, telling the truth and hearing the truth are - at the very least - very different sets of capacities. 

That can not be overstated - and as I have said over and over again, communication skills are physical skills that take practice - and these component skills definitely take a lot of practice.

To start with, telling the truth can take a lot of courage. Hearing the truth takes openness and, at times, a willingness to hear feedback and truths that are difficult to hear. 

And the list goes on - on both sides.

But imagine telling the truth about something - something you are scared to share about yourself - and having your partner thank you, express gratitude for trusting them to share it with them, and acknowledge you for the courage that it took and to express that they trust you even more now - and to do it without judgment - with love and acceptance. 

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The Ultimate Meditation | The Law of Attraction is Already Working For You, But Not The Way You Might Think

Thinking-about-thinking-730x335 Metacognition is the most important capacity to develop for personal development
Communication skills: we often think of how skilled we are communicating with others but the more important skillset is how we communicate with ourselves.
 
You are communicating with yourself every second of every waking moment. Not just stuff you say to yourself. That's obvious. But futures you imagine. Situations you think about. Imaginings of outcomes.
 
This is why meta-cognition and meta-awareness is the most important capacity to develop of all.
 
The ability to rapidly notice any thoughts that do not serve you - because everything is self-hypnosis - and change them to positive and empowering thoughts is the ultimate skill.
 
For some, they never notice the negativities - and then they wonder why the Law of Attraction does not work for them. It is. It does. Whether you realize it or not. The thing you think about most often, for the longest duration, with the most emotional intensity will come to pass.
 
So if you wake up with anxiety, filled with worry, you are imagining negative futures or outcomes. Probably accompanied by internal self-talk about how you might fail or “what if it does not work out”? Sitting down for a 10-minute meditation to think positive thoughts about what you want to create is not going to counteract hours of worry and fear.
 
No.
 
The real meditation is becoming aware of every thought you think every moment of every day. Become aware of that - and master it - and you will master your emotions, your inner life, and ultimately realize your vision.
 
Even when stuff goes sideways - and you have unexpected crises, with this ingrained as a habit, you will recover much faster and find solutions far more easily, and do it while having the pleasure of knowing it will all work out just fine no matter what.

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This is an excerpt from Jason's forthcoming book on Evolutionary Relationships from the #RelationshipContinuum section.

To be Guided by Jason - whether you are currently in a relationship and want to transform it, or you are single and want to “do the next one right” - check out the Evolutionary Relationships offering.

Or just schedule a complimentary initial conversation here to get the process started.

 

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The Evolution of Evolution | Expanding Your Capacities

The Evolution of Evolution | Expanding Your Capacities

Often I am asked just how what I do as an Evolutionary Guide -- assisting others in evolving how they relate to themselves and how they relate to events (ego and emotions) -- has any real practical applications particularly in business. It is a fair question. One that, to me, has an obvious answer: always, daily, in every context. But let me be specific:

What causes people to be less productive and to suffer emotionally and decide to give up on their dreams and desires—to simply not “go for it”? 

Many things, but some of the more salient points would be:

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1. Taking things personally

2. Extrapolating out negative futures from limited data

3. Focusing on the problem(s) rather than solutions

4. Staying on course for too long after they know they need to adjust because they are afraid to admit their mistakes

5. Self-doubt

6. Fear

7. A lack of efficacy in communication

8. … 

… the list could go on and on and on. 

Likewise, their opposites--which we could sum up as simply being free and moving with confidence, efficacy and velocity--are all sourced in the same place.

What do they all have in common? The degree to which we experience any of these things is determined by our “stage” of development, which in turn determines how we relate to ourselves and / or how we relate to the events around us. It’s the “place” we react from and interpret through. 

There is no more important “soft” skill that one can develop than their capacity to witness--the capacity to objectively examine a situation, an event, or a thing, or even themselves from outside of themselves which, in turn, is developing the capacity to dis-identify from any thing, situation, person, role, project, opinions …again, the list goes on. And therefore, there is no greater developmental endeavor one can engage in than personal evolution--increasing our capacity to not only witness, but to take on an ever-increasing number of perspectives. 

This will even translate to learning “hard” skills more easily because you can throw yourself into the endeavor with great fervor, and without all of the self-consciousness that stops so many people from trying new things. You will be inclined to take on greater responsibility, ask for what you are worth, be willing and able to understand another’s perspective -- while maintaining your sovereign right to disagree -- communicate with greater ease and skill, employ greater agility and flexibility in your projects, and …well, be happier.

It’s simple: if you judge yourself when you are ineffective at something--experiencing embarrassment and even shame--that’s going to get in your way of trying new things. It will seem “risky”. The more you limit yourself the more you live in the world of saying, “That's just not me”. And the world of me/not me becomes increasingly limited, and it is the world that most people live in.

The nature of evolution is evolving just as our relationship to evolution has been evolving from biological to mental and emotional to spiritual -- to bio-technical.

Ray Kurzweil, director of engineering at Google, believes we will be able to upload our entire brains to computers within the next 30 years or so. That will certainly change things, won’t it? But this is not a piece about the coming Singularity--no doubt an “event” that many long for, others fear, and still others will see as a sign of the coming rapture, and many have not even heard of. 

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Intentional Relating in Community | Responsible Interpretive Rigor With And To Others

Some years ago I wrote some guidelines for an intentional community and what I felt would create the best convergence of wisdom and having a responsible "immune system" for a community for safety of those participating as well as the most freedom of self-expression possible, all while trying to maintain it as Evolutionary -- with constant upward spirals, part of which would certainly include plateaus in that "constancy".

Blah blah, blah.

Anyway, one of the rules I had [and hold] is that in a community with individuals engaged in personal development, where Evolution is present, it is our duty and responsibility to update our interpretations of others.

This is not so unique, and the need is obvious: people have brief interactions with others. "Snap-shots" of that person if you will. But they are brief and contextual. And yet, people then extrapolate out and assess [or judge] this person as X. They then share this interpretation of this person with others. Perhaps out of genuine concern. Sometimes just to gossip.

And those who are careful and responsible in their sharing may even say "I only interacted whit them in XYZ situation and you may have another experience of them", blah, blah, blah.

They may even check in with the person/interact with them to see if their experience/assessment/interpretation was still valid.

And right there is where we can improve this process.

The Evolutionary would check in to see where their interpretation was *no longer* valid. Observe first where we were (or could be) wrong or out of date--looking for difference rather than for confirmation--of and about their assessment.

It is uncomfortable and against human nature's tendency to go for familiarity, confirmation bias, safety, etc. but it is more rigorous in our own evolution and more useful for true human connection and more aligned with what I consider to be Evolutionary principles.

And we will be relating more accurately with the dynamic being in front of us, rather than the stale and static caricature of them in our heads.

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