We all know that trust is absolutely central in the health of any relationship. Regardless of the nature of the relationship, whether it’s an intimate relationship, a parental relationship, a friendship or a professional working relationship, trust is an essential ingredient in any healthy relationship and for trust to develop we need to know that someone’s actions will be congruent with what they say.
This morning I had an interesting conversation and it got me thinking... Now this was a conversation with someone who is working through a challenging period within a relationship, and as we spoke, I realised that when we removed the actuality of the circumstances and the difficulties that this couple were facing, the real underlying conflict within the relationship was about the ability for both parties not simply to talk and make time for a valuable communication… but to follow this conversation through with action.
As I reflected on this afterwards I realised that we had been talking about what it means to be "genuinely Authentic."
We were talking about our ability to walk our talk, to follow our words with actions that are congruent with what we have said and to live in a manner that is in balance with who we say that we are … to live in a manner that is congruent with our core inner beliefs and a true reflection of the kind of person that we aspire and wish to be.
When we talk about authenticity this is actually what we mean. We are talking about how important it is to know that when someone says that they will do something, that they will in turn then follow it through with action. Or likewise, if someone tells us that they are honest and a person of genuine integrity that their subsequent actions validate their words.
Many a disagreement and often the breaking down of relationship is not simply a lack of discussion but that a valuable conversation isn’t then backed up with actions that demonstrate the truth and the validity of those words.
When we speak about empty words it doesn’t mean that they are empty of meaning… it generally means that they are empty of action, empty of actions that would demonstrate a commitment to what has been said or indeed a congruence with what has been said.
Now most of us will be able to relate to this in terms of our relationships with others, indeed, rather sadly, I am certain that most of us will inevitably have had experiences of being let down and disappointed through a lack of consistency and congruence from another, however one of my own most profound learning curves has been the recognition that on occasion, my own actions have inadvertently supported something that is completely out of congruence with my own values and my core inner self.
I have learned that sometimes, with the very best of intention, we can completely unknowingly contribute to an unhealthy situation and this will then have a direct impact on our own inner sense of well-being.
I have discovered through my own hard learned experience that in my desire to be responsive, caring and giving, whilst I am of the belief that I am living in a manner that is congruent with my core values, if my actions take place without an appropriate level of prior discernment, without appropriate enquiry and considered reflection, that my giving can actually contribute to an unhealthy situation.
Quite recently I gave very generously to some neighbours only to discover that I had in fact inadvertently contributed to a situation that I strongly disagreed with. Unbeknown to myself, my support of them had created an opportunity for them to behave dishonestly and to take advantage of others more vulnerable than themselves. My desire to be a giving, generous and supportive person had over-ruled the importance of enquiry and reflection prior to taking action. In this instance the most appropriate and valuable action would have been to say NO.
It is easy in a situation such as this to feel hurt and angry and place blame on the actions of my neighbours. Of course they are most definitely responsible for their actions, I have no say or control over their personal choices, I do however have control of my own choices and indeed the learning curve that comes from these kinds of situations.
So rather than being de-railed by my feelings of anger and disappointment I chose to look inwards… to reflect on my own part within this situation and to take further action accordingly. I cannot change the past or my contribution to it, but I can learn from it… and I can take a more considered course of action RIGHT NOW.
When we step away from self-responsibility we relinquish the opportunity to become aware of any part that we ourselves may have played in the scenario, and in doing so we give away our personal power. We give away our entitlement and our opportunity to have a conscious say in finding a co-creative resolution and we relinquish our opportunity to be actively engaged in navigating our way forwards.
The last decade of my own life has been an extraordinary learning curve, not an easy pathway to follow but a journey that through facing significant challenges has caused me to look deeply inwards and reassess many areas of my life, particularly within the area of relationship. My understanding and approach to relationship in all areas of my life has radically altered, and I am not simply speaking of intimate relationships, I am talking about "Relationship" across the board. Without doubt the most significant and influential change has been my own relationship with myself.
I have learned that when something is not ok in my world, if I wish to see a change of circumstances then first and foremost I will need to journey inwards and look to myself. My power to create change lies in the recognition of my own part in the scenario, and I now know that this may not always be immediately apparent. On the surface it may appear that I am living in congruence with my inner values but my actions may inadvertently be contributing to the opposite.
Over the coming weeks I am going to be writing about and sharing some of my own real life challenges, experiences that have ultimately empowered me to live more congruently and more in tune with my core inner values... experiences that have led me to write about the empowerment of Emotional Health and what I have come to speak of as "Relational Spirituality."
In my own life I have learned to listen to my inner world from a different perspective, and in doing so the very nature of my own inner landscape has significantly changed. In turn my external circumstances have radically altered for the better, a transition still in the process of transformation and one which is consistently mirroring the consolidation of my own congruence with myself.
It has been a roller coaster of a ride but I can truly say that however challenging these last few years have been I am profoundly grateful for my experiences… they have made me who I am today.
I look forward to sharing my experience and hope that in talking about my own challenges, this will empower others in overcoming similar difficulties and to become proactive in creating changes within their own lives.
Jenny Florence is the #1 Bestselling Author of 7 Steps to Spiritual Empathy a practical guide to developing core relational life skills. She is also the Author and Creator of the A-Z of Emotional Health on-line Audio Library
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