I recently sublet one of the two treatment rooms in my office to a woman who is totally into sharing.
Now “Don’t share your feelings” is one of my 6 Don’ts to create a relationship that’s easy and fun. It is, hands down, the item that I get the most comments about, questions about, and resistance to.
When I wrote that particular “don’t,” my emphasis was on the feelings aspect of it. I was referring to that eternal quest of so many women to find that man they could truly share their all-valuable feelings with. That’s a topic for another whole share, or perhaps a whole different book. Suffice to say the emphasis on feelings was to make women look at the fact that men function from a different place than women do.
Because so many women do value their feelings and feel they are “who they are,” they assume that men are the same and value feelings also. This is not the case, and assuming it is does a disservice to both sexes. As Lou Ann Brizendine pointed out in The Male Brain, men are not wired neurologically or chemically to process feelings. Their way of dealing with things is to fix them, which is not what women are looking for. Is it really a kindness to ask them to do something for which they are unprepared and unsuited?
How many of you, when viewing a beautiful sunset, only find it valuable if you can call up someone to share it with? Would you consider how much you are invalidating yourself in this point of view? What about considering that you alone viewing the sunset and being awed by its beauty was sufficient? Why do you require someone else’s validation for that awareness to be valuable?
Ironically, when you have to validate your perceiving with someone else’s “sharing” it, you are moving from perception into judgment, which is a constant invalidation of you and your perceiving, knowing, being and receiving. This movement from pure perceiving, which is what an infinite being does, into judgment, which always limits what you can perceive know be and receive, occurs because perceptions are like the wind. They last 10 seconds or less and change with the wind. It’s not actually possible to fix a perception in space, and attempting to do so solidifies it into a judgment.
I do not know this woman’s relationship history, except to know that she is now a single mother of 3 daughters and had a boyfriend who stole valuable professional equipment from her. I suspect that her points of view on sharing had much to do with the demise of her past relationships.
So what’s so sticky about sharing? I got that it was important and valuable to this woman. I knew it would be an issue that I had to deal with if she was going to be my tenant. So I started to look at it and ask questions about it. My working definition of sharing was that it reflects the point of view that, “What’s mine is mine, and what’s yours is mine, also.” Right after renting to her, I discovered that in addition to the room she rented, she was making plans to redecorate our common reception area, use my personal desk, and even use my own treatment room when I wasn’t around. It seemed that my working definition turned out to be rather accurate.
Her proposal was to use my desk for some diagnostic equipment that I could share. What was interesting is this was the second time in two brief meetings that she had mentioned my sharing her equipment, on the assumption that I would find it valuable. What was interesting about this is that I noticed there was no question in her universe. She valued the equipment, so of course I would too. The possibility that I could have a point of view about the equipment that differed from hers did not appear to have entered her universe.
In reality, the equipment is valuable when approaching chiropractic from a different philosophic and scientific viewpoint than I have, which makes it irrelevant to my practice. Furthermore, learning technology and software, though I can do it, is one of my least favorite things in the world to do. None of this makes either of us wrong or right—just different. But that difference was not acknowledged in her assumptions. She wasn’t required to know my points of view in advance, but asking what they were instead of assuming they were the same as hers would have acknowledged an equality and value to both of us that she did not.
Interestingly, while we were getting better acquainted, I discovered she had a piece of equipment that was a mate to one I had, along with a custom built rack that would house both of them. Her ex-boyfriend had taken the most vital part of the equipment, though she had the lesser piece. “Here you go, you can have the rack in your room,” she said instantly after learning I had the more useful piece.
Where did she fit in that equation? Where was the value to her in giving/loaning away the equipment she had in favor of creating a complete set in my office? Ironically this woman is devoted to her children and her patients, running around all day long to satisfy all of their needs without looking at all at her own requirements or even the value of her life.
While I am not a great fan of “boundaries,” it would seem you could say she was displaying a marked lack of them. I wonder if that is the lie underlying the concept of sharing—it’s a pretense that we are one, while ultimately denying the autonomy and value of one of the people involved in the interaction. We are one, and that one has the thoughts, feelings, emotions, needs, requirements, and wants that I have, is the automatic assumption.
Yet most everyone longs for a relationship, without looking at how much of themselves they would end up giving up if they actually found one. For more about this, you might wish to check out my friend Gary Douglas’s book, Divorceless Relationships available on his website. What would be a way of going about this which would create a different reality than sharing?
How about the word “contribution?” My dictionary defines it as a part played by a person in adding to or bringing about a result. Doesn’t that feel lighter than sharing? You can contribute to others WITHOUT giving up yourself.
How can you move from sharing to contributing? You could start by asking yourself, “Am I contributing here or am I sharing?” You could also ask if you’re taking into account the other person’s point of view, or merely assuming that it matches your own? If you’re considering their point of view (hint: have you asked them what it is?), then you are contributing. If you’re assuming it’s the same as yours—you’re sharing.
Moving from sharing to contributing can be a big step in shifting the relationships you have to ones in which both parties are acknowledged as valuable. Warning: this could be hazardous to your expectations and demands that everything go as you would like it to! But it could lead to the creating of a relationship which is functional and actually works!