- Thoughts for inspired living

October 29, 2007

Mud Wrestling

Filed under: John Morgan's Blog — John Morgan @ 8:16 am

How many of your interactions are sugarcoated? How many times do you walk on eggs? Each time you do this, you paste a piece of your soul to the statue of superficiality.

Every time we withhold something and stuff it back down, we do a disservice to our humanity and to the humanity of others. We give them and ourselves an inauthentic interaction that benefits no one. You walk away with a handful of air that will compress and get stronger and come back as a Category 5 hurricane.

This is not a recommendation to go out and tell someone how it is. That’s basically throwing up on someone which only benefits one party.

Many years ago I heard Dr. Robert Anthony say,

“Teach people how to treat you.”

Perhaps an example will prove helpful. Suppose you are a woman who doesn’t like to be touched – especially by people that you don’t know that well. You are standing at the copy machine and your new co-worker comes over and greets you with a “good morning” and puts his arm around your shoulder with a friendly squeeze and then lets go. You tense up, return the greeting and stuff down your response because you want to be polite. This replicates itself 3 times a week for 3 weeks. Finally on the 9th time, you shout at the coworker and tell them not to put their arm around you. This is the basic throw-up.

What would have happened if you, on the first or second occurrence, said to the co-worker, “Bill, I’m sure that’s a very natural thing for you to do, to put your arm around someone, and I request that you don’t do it with me because it makes me feel uncomfortable”?

You’ve done 3 things:

  1. You’ve had an authentic interaction
  2. You send the hurricane out to sea
  3. You have taught someone how to treat you

I think we were unwilling to talk about what we want to talk about for fear the other person will become angry and/or go away. So our strategy is to sweep it under the rug. Then everyone ignores the big, visible hump in the middle of the living room and pretends it’s not there. That has the aforementioned consequences. So the snowball you are avoiding becomes an avalanche when allowed to roll off your back. The ancient Chinese Sage, Lao Tzu said,

“Do the difficult things while they are easy and do the great things while they are small.”

But if you have ignored that advice, I think you have to get in the mud from time to time for a relationship to deepen or clarify. And you have to be willing to accept the outcome. If you enter the mud with a pre-conceived notion as to what the result should be, you’ll stay muddy. If your outcome is to win, you’ve missed the purpose of getting into the mud. If you’re willing to travel the road the mud fest leads you to, you’ll get to take a shower and feel cleaner than you would have had you never got in the mud. You get to know someone better after wrestling with them in the mud. Mud wrestling doesn’t always lead to bliss but I believe it gives you a better idea of what your relationship with another is.

This is not a prescription for a knock-down, drag out confrontation. They never work because the objective is to beat the other person into submission. This is a just a heads-up that you may have to first get dirty (translate that to uncomfortable) in order to clean things up. If you continue to avoid that discomfort, plan on boarding up the beach house.

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