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Demands for Change

You might start to panic when, even after you have worked so hard to be clear and conscientious in your communication, your partner still doesn't offer what you are longing for.  You have been diligent about sharing your needs and making clear requests, and you don't know what else to do.  In this situation, you might begin to feel panic and desperation that turns into demands for change.


Demand is defined by a willingness to attempt to meet your needs at the expense of someone else's needs.  This usually entails using some form of force to get the result you want, that is, the change in your partner that you want.  In the worst case scenario, physical use of force occurs; shoving, hitting, slamming doors, holding someone down, blocking a doorway, following someone around the house when they are trying to leave, etc.


In everyday life, it takes on subtle forms that don't always get identified as demands.  In fact, sometimes they masquerade as attempts to "help." Possibly the most pernicious form of masquerading demands is an attempt to "help" through analysis of what's wrong with the other person.  You may have had this experience.  Your partner or someone else begins pointing out, in a subtle way with sophisticated vocabulary and jargon, how you are failing and what's wrong with you.  Typically this is hard to catch as some bits of truth are also present, such as specific observations.  You likely walk away from such an interaction feeling depleted and disoriented with thoughts of self-doubt.


A more common form of demand is an attempt to convince someone of another point of view.  Underlying this, of course, is the idea that you are right and they are wrong and if only they could see it your way then your needs would be met.  Convincing can take many forms:  yelling, logical arguments, criticism, gathering evidence for your case, etc.


All these forms of demand are preventing you from being present with the truth that something is fundamentally not working for you about your relationship.  Sadly, as you avoid this truth, the likelihood that you can work through it becomes nil.


True requests of your partner are an expression of your willingness to hear a "no" and pursue connection anyway; even if that connection is in the context of ending the relationship.  True requests are about a specific do-able behavior at a specific time to nourish a particular need.  Asking your partner to shift their view is not a request.  It is not specific nor do-able and it is usually coming from a place of demand.


The best form of demand prevention is a willingness to grieve.  In the instant before the angry feeling and demand arise, there is grief.  After grief, there is fear; perhaps fear of grief.


You can gain confidence with grief by looking for small moments of disappointment in your day.  For example, maybe you are hoping for an email response from someone and when you open your inbox, it isn't there.  Just pause for one full breath and saying to yourself, "Oh, I feel sad not seeing the email."  Then put your attention on the feelings of sadness no matter how small.  


Contrary to popular conditioning, you will find that when you give your full mindful attention to a moment of sadness (or any feeling) it dissolves or shifts on its own rather quickly.  Without the proliferation of associated thoughts, grief has it's own natural life, arising and falling away.  Rather than demand life (your partner) shape itself according to your wishes, grief teaches you to trust in the natural flow of change and open to wisdom.


Practice

This week look for a moment in which you would like someone else to have the same view as you.  Pause, scan your heart and body for sadness that they don't share your view.  Say to yourself, "It's okay to feel this sadness."


Next Gem
The Problem with Empathy
Previous Gem
Freedom in Marriage


9 Responses

  1. Sep 07, 2017
    glenn franz

    This is so clearly explained. It is so satisfying to read it. I am feeling grateful.

    However, I did stumble over this sentence and had to reread it to make sense of it.

    Rather than demand life (your partner) shape itself according to your wishes, grief teaches you to trust in the natural flow of change and open to wisdom.


  2. Sep 07, 2017
    glenn franz

    This is so clearly explained. It is so satisfying to read it. I am feeling grateful.

    However, I did stumble over this sentence and had to reread it to make sense of it.

    Rather than demand life (your partner) shape itself according to your wishes, grief teaches you to trust in the natural flow of change and open to wisdom.


  3. Sep 07, 2017
    Marc

    Thank you so much. This gem is my favorite so far.

  4. Sep 08, 2017

    Thanks Marc! If you are inspired, I would be interested to hear what exactly makes it your favorite?

  5. Sep 08, 2017

    Good to hear from you Glenn.

    Hmm, let me see if I can rephrase that sentence:

    Rather than trying to control life, grief helps relax and go with the flow.

    Is that better?

  6. Sep 08, 2017
    glenn franz


    Yes, certainly makes it simpler. If there was a pronoun after "helps," as in - grief helps one relax..." it would please my ear.

    There was more message in the original. Perhaps two sentences might have said it all.

    At any rate, I feel uneasy picking at details in such a well expressed message. Meanwhile, I will be more patient and not click the submit button twice.

  7. Sep 09, 2017

    Thanks Glenn, I enjoy any all feedback that helps support learning and transformation, picking details included!

  8. Sep 13, 2017
    Elaine Krueger

    This Gem was so helpful to me. I have had a lot of demand energy around wanting people to have the same views as myself. And I have been wanting to argue with their views. To go to the sadness will really help me not be in my demand energy. I want to remember to grieve and look at needs like validation and being valued. Thanks so much.

  9. Sep 14, 2017

    Your welcome Elaine. Very glad to hear it was helpful

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