Wednesday, September 24, 2014

What Are Your "Conditions," and Why is it Critical to Know Them?

We've all heard people say things like, "You can wear my sweater on two conditions..." (You promise to take good care of it, and you return it to me clean. Otherwise, no go). This is basically what I mean by conditions. They can be general or specific, but your minimum conditions in any given life experience must be met in order for you to be happy, safe, comfortable, etc.

In contracts of all kinds, conditions are specifically laid out so that everyone involved knows what to expect, what is required of them, and what is required of the other party. They can't look into a crystal ball and see how it will all turn out, but they do what they can to ensure that everyone's on the same page, so that the situation will be successful.

In our personal lives, we don't always know ourselves well enough to be able to specify what our conditions are for being happy. We know we want a good job in the field of our choice, but we might not know what would need to be true in order to thrive in such a job. We know we want to find our soul mate and live happily ever after, but we might not have identified in ourselves our deepest needs, values, and expectations, let alone expressed those to the other person We might say "I do" without knowing what our personal conditions are for being happy, safe and secure in a marriage.

Now, when I say "conditions," I'm not referring to a wish list (five foot two, eyes are blue...") Preferences are all well and good, but they are optional (according to this definition). Conditions are serious business. If a condition (such as feeling safe, having enough to eat, feeling mutual respect) is not met, it means you cannot thrive in that situation. And if you cannot thrive in that situation, it will eventually cause you harm, and/or self destruct by virtue of its basic incompatibility. There's no making it okay as long as your minimum conditions are not met. If you stay, you will pay. Dearly.

If you look around, you'll see different people in different situations. Some folks are happy at home, but not at work. Some are the opposite. Some are content with their life style, but feel uncomfortable in their community. Or happy with their physical lives, but unhappy emotionally. The list goes on. But chances are, where we're happy, our conditions are being met, and where we're unhappy, our conditions are not being met. (Note that this isn't always the case, so you might have to evaluate).

This week, I invite you to look at the different areas of your life, and notice where things feel easy and natural, and where you have a lot of conflict or strife. Choose an area that needs work, and sit down with a pen and paper. At the top of the page, write out the question:
"What would need to be true in order for me to be happy in my [state the situation]?" Then make a list. Try to state things affirmatively and in the present tense: "I feel respected," "My children are safe," "We are spiritually compatible," "I make $50,000/year." These are your conditions.

Review the list. It should be quite illuminating. If anything you wrote down was optional, put it on a separate list, because your list of conditions should represent  your personal bottom line. Once you've consciously completed your list, you may find that your situation starts to change, as if by magic. It may spontaneously transform, or it may go away to be replaced by something that does meet your conditions.