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Read Letter

Two Capacities

My dear Jack, there are two capacities you must develop if you want to make a success of your relationship and indeed life. You must develop capacity for introspection and capacity for critical self-analysis. The two are not the same. By introspection I mean the ability to look inward, to consider your life, your direction; to see where you’re coming from, know where you are, where you want to go. It’s a meditative exercise, sort of. Doesn’t mean you have to lock up yourself in a room cross legged, breathing methodically. It’s just having some quiet in your inner self, seeing things through your inner eyes. It’s not meant to be a pity party either. Introspection is neutral in emotion. It’s not about feeling sorry for yourself. It’s simply looking inside. Introspection allows us to see the need for a plan. It doesn’t come up with the plan but it will give you an awareness of the need for a plan. Planning requires rational energy. That’s not the energy employed by introspection. It uses a different form of energy. Introspection doesn’t sweat. It has a coolant.

Introspection is a meditative pause in time, an inner rest from all our exertions. You’re by yourself, with yourself. That’s what introspection is. Our lives tend to be one perpetual motion. We’re like those “Okada” riders in Lagos, Nigeria – those motorcycle transporters. They’re an orthopaedic hospital case study. They generate balance through perpetual motion. Not having learnt how to ride motorcycle properly they can’t handle slowing down. The bike becomes imbalanced and they lose control. Like those Okada riders we seek to maintain balance in our lives through perpetual motion. There’s always one activity or the other – one party to go to, one event to attend. We pack our weekends chock full, shuffling from one activity to another. We hardly rest. Yet our souls need restoration from exertions of the week. We constantly put our soul under pressure, even when we drive. We’re always speeding up, greedily gobbling up the road like we’re famished, like there’s a prize at the end for fast consumption. In so speeding we reduce our margin of safety to split seconds. That in itself is pressure, enormous pressure. Observe these things when next you drive. You’ll see you never go at even pace. And you’re under pressure from behind. Those cars behind us are more or less telling us to hurry up or get off the road. We hardly enjoy driving, not even on weekend.
These scenarios mirror our lives. We put ourselves under constant pressure and we allow society put us under relentless pressure. We’re accidents waiting to happen. Because our soul is under so much pressure our mental stability suffers. We don’t take good decisions. Some people are at breaking point. Sometimes the pressure comes from work. There’s always a deadline. And after the deadline comes another deadline, and another deadline… Truth is, there are no dead lines. Lines never die. Some carry the work pressure home. They don’t drop it in the office. They enter the house with a morose visage, start taking things out on the innocents – the spouse and the children. Sometimes both spouses bring pressure home and begin to take it out on one another. There’s so much tension the unhappiness is so thick one could cut it with a knife. And so there’s no happiness at work and no happiness at home. The only means of escape is a third platform, which can range from a bottle, to another shoulder, to another bosom. Even when we go to movies we don’t allow the credits to roll. We just jump up and begin to rush for the exit. Where are we rushing to? The bathroom? The car? Back on the street? In less than a minute we destroy the rest provided by the escape created by the movie. We re-pile the pressure. Our pressures are mostly self-generated.
What introspection does is take us to a quiet place, inside us, to a place where we can see the unseen, feel the unfelt. Without introspection we’ll never know the enormity of the grace upon our lives. Which then makes us unappreciative of what we have – the benevolence in our lives. Without introspection we’ll never see what we have, only what the other person has. That builds negative emotions. It’s the beginning of envy. Envy is murderous. Note that envy can be patient. It can just keep brooding, drawing on negative energy, looking for an opportunity to visit injury on the marked. Many times it’s verbal injury. Words can destroy. Words do destroy. The envious cannot focus on his game. He focuses on the game of others. He can’t see what he has. All he sees is what the other person has. And so when I ask you to spend time on introspection I’m talking about your emotional and relational health. Spend time once a week by yourself with yourself. See where you are, how well you’re doing… Introspection is you communing with yourself.
Developing critical capacity is different however. It’s different from introspection. One of the things you’ll notice in life is man’s unwillingness to take responsibility. He doesn’t want to take responsibility for his actions and inactions. And he won’t take responsibility for decisions. He’ll rather blame someone else. Given the option between blaming the successful and improving his lot in life the average man will rather blame the successful, wish them evil but how does that help him? Critical self-analysis demands we examine our role in the outcome of our life, accept our mistakes, hold ourselves accountable. If you won’t do that you’ll always hold somebody else responsible for the outcome of your life. You can’t take responsibility. Let me illustrate with relationship. If a relationship between a boy and a girl doesn’t end up in marriage critical self-analysis demands we examine our role in the disappointment. I have seen people do everything to destroy a relationship and then turn around to blame the other party when the relationship fractures. They’ll even accuse the other party of using them. They choose to ignore the facts that led to the exasperation and eventual breakup. There’s selective memory, one that refuses to accept responsibility. Years after they’re still blaming the other party. Now it’s about emotions rather than facts, and you can’t argue with emotions. Take responsibility. Put the blame squarely where it belongs. Then you know what not to do in your next relationship.
There’s a Jil I know who won’t take responsibility for the outcome of her relationship. The truth is, she over-negotiates affection. Doesn’t know when to stop. And so her relationships feel like one long bargaining process and that’s exasperating. Because she wants to be wanted so much she aims to make the relationship imbalanced. She wants to be wanted more. And it’s unnecessary. She refuses to volunteer basic loving sentiments, manipulates affection. That makes her make premature situational demands for high level commitment. And she’s not willing to give what she demands. Unfortunately men don’t have the capacity for drawn out negotiation of affection, especially after the relationship has begun. It’s exasperating. We must be willing to give what we want in a relationship. And we have to give what we want first. Relationship is the perfect laboratory for the law of sowing and reaping.
We must avoid pride in a relationship. Pride prevents us from admitting emotional needs. Pride makes us pretend we don’t need what our partner has to offer. We must also avoid selfishness. Selfishness blinds us to what we’re doing to our partner in a relationship. That a partner soaks up our selfish deeds doesn’t make selfishness okay. Selfishness makes us lose sensitivity. Relationship also demands vulnerability. We must be willing to ask for love and affection, not pretend it’s nothing. Beyond a certain point manipulation gets tiring and the other party withdraws, sometimes silently, many times loudly. Only the issue will lack definition. Relationship is give and take. You must give emotionally, you must give materially.
Sometimes one party in a relationship edits the terms of the relationship without consulting the other party. There are people like that. And when the other party reacts they feel hurt, like they’re the victim! They never bargained the other party will react to all that editorial work, which is quite natural. When you change the terms of a relationship you’re editing the relationship. When you begin to withhold affection or expression of emotion in a relationship you’re editing the relationship. Expect the other party to react.
I’ve said a lot for you to consider, given you so many things to think about. I’ve deliberately refused to hit the nail on the head. Reflection will help you see the answer to your debacle.
Your mentor, LA
© Leke Alder |
We must avoid pride in a relationship. Pride prevents us from admitting emotional needs. Pride makes us pretend we don’t need what our partner has to offer. Click To Tweet
We must be willing to give what we want in a relationship. Relationship is the perfect laboratory for the law of sowing and reaping. Click To Tweet
Tags : Development, Success, Giving

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