Thursday, October 13, 2005

Conscious Loving: The Journey to Co-Commitment by Gay Hendricks

Book Review by Zinta Aistars

# Paperback: 304 pages
# Publisher: Bantam, 1992
# Price: $16.00
# ISBN: 0553354116

No, nothing new. Which is precisely what makes this so good. This is the stuff of time-tested common sense, the stuff of that inner voice of wisdom, the one that is always trying to steer you in the right direction, even as you kick and scream and resist, intent on remaining on the old path of repeated and repeated and repeated cycles. We repeat them until we learn the lesson. Resolve the dilemma. Solve the puzzle.

If the Hendricks message is to be boiled down to one catch-phrase, it would simply be: "wake up." It is not so much about change, as it is about living with our eyes open, fully aware (conscious) of why we do what we do, how we feel while we are doing it, and which way we will go next. Instead of moving through a fog, we instead make conscious choices.

If we can add one concept to that catch-phrase, it would be the concept of accountability. Relationships, and not just romantic ones, tend to bog down most when we get busy issuing blame and pointing fingers. Hendricks proposes that we are all, each and every one of us, to be held accountable for our own lives. No victims, no martyrs. And co-dependents, out with you. A satisfying relationship is one that takes place between two people who make a 100 percent (each) commitment (nothing less will do or failure has room to enter) to themselves and to each other. It begins with a promise to be authentic to ourselves and to always tell what Hendricks calls "the microscopic truth." Our lives are what we make them. And if we don't like our lives, well, it is up to each of us to make the necessary changes. We must be honest with ourselves above all, but we must respect our mates with utmost honesty as well. It is the only solid building block that holds up a strong and satisfying relationship.

One might balk at the wrongs done us, and oh the pity parties we do enjoy, when we are lied to and cheated on and our backs wear the footprints of others. But consider how far one gets in improving that situation when busy whining "I'm a victim! poor sap me!" and when one instead takes a moment to consider: how did I manifest this? How have I taught others to treat me? Have I made my personal boundaries clear? Have I offered and insisted upon honesty? Have I rescued my mate from the natural outcome of his or her bad behavior, thus robbing them of a learning experience? Have I been true to myself and expressed how I feel? It is not about letting our mates off the hook for bad behavior; that's dishonest, too. We hold our partners fully accountable, too. But it is a realization that we are not merely innocent bystanders in the soap operas of our lives. The sooner we understand our own part in the drama, the sooner we can enjoy true intimacy and equality with a mate we value and who values us.

I read this Hendricks' book as I recently read Conscious Living -- with relish. I like the idea of being accountable for my life; it keeps the reins for my happiness in my own hands, after all. And there is so much more to see and enjoy when I make a decision to live my life with eyes wide open. My beloved is sharing this book with me. We are each reading it with a highlighter in hand, noting what resonates. Much has been learned already. I look forward to what new levels we might reach in this most basic if not highest human longing -- to walk shoulder to shoulder with our best life friend, empowering ourselves and each other to be the best we can be.

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