If vibrancy is a choice, you can choose to enter the agreements that support the level of vibrancy you want. You can choose these agreements in your relationship to your self, the other, the group, nature, and spirit. To work on the agreements in all five primary relationships, where does one start? Our global survey research only shows that where one relationship is highly vibrancy, all five are: the survey data does not show where to start.
And, the wisdom of many traditions around the world suggest a critical starting point, where the rest of the relationships cannot work with out strengthen in this specific relationship — the relationship you have with your self. I have recently read and recommend two books that explore this critical relationship you have with your own self.
William Ury, global negotiator and co-author of the bestselling Getting to Yes, starts his book with a quote from Socrates, “Let him who would move the world first move himself” (p1). Ury finds that, “Getting to yes with yourself prepares the way for getting to yes with others…(it) is about changing the inner game so that we can then change the outer game” (p3). “The greatest obstacle to getting what we really want in life is not the other party, as difficult as he or she can be. The biggest obstacle is actually ourselves. We get in our own way…We sabotage ourselves by reacting in ways that do not serve our true interests” (p4). “Underlying our poor reactions in moments of conflict is an adversarial “win-lose” mindset…What sustains this..is a sense of scarcity, the fear that there is just not enough to go around” (p5).
Ury suggests 6 steps to making vibrant agreements with your self. He qualifies that, “The six steps may at times seem like common sense. But in my three and a half decades of working as a mediator, I’ve learned that they are uncommon sense–common sense that is uncommonly applied” (p6). (1) Put yourself in your shoes. (2) Develop your inner BATNA (best alternative to a negotiated agreement). (3) Reframe your picture. (4) Stay in the zone. (5) Respect them even if. (6) Give and receive.
How do we know when we need to renegotiate with our self? Maybe we are giving ourselves the signal. When asked what you think about something, like where you want to go to school, have you ever said, “I don’t know. I’ll have to ask myself.” Then you had to reflect on it. Who were you asking? What did you say to yourself? Ury suggests humans have an inner system that gives the feedback we need to know when to enter a negotiation with our self. “If you listen to your feelings, particularly recurrent ones of dissatisfaction, you will find that they point you in the direction of unmet concerns and interests. Properly interpreted, they can help you uncover your deepest needs…Feelings of dissatisfaction are the language that your needs use to communicate with you” (pp32-33). Ury also emphasizes the importance of truly owning your life. “That is the power of self-responsibility when twinned with self-understanding. Self-understanding without self-responsibility runs the risk of dissolving into self-pity. Self-responsibility without self-understanding can deteriorate into self-blame” (p47).
In Shift Happens, author Robert Holden provides a very accessible guide to choosing agreements with your self. Showing why experiencing only the outcomes level of reality is so difficult for people, Holden explores why, “Separation by its very nature is violent. The moment you believe you are separate from anything or anyone, there is room for suspicion, fear, defensiveness, competitiveness, envy, and attack” (p31). Ecosynomically, we experience the noun as an it, outside of me. Separation. We experience being with and part of the verb and light, inside of me. No separation. Holden also takes on the impact on the self of the perception of scarcity. “To receive, you must be willing to give up all thoughts of lack. Lack is the great illusion. In truth, there are no shortages, only a lack of willingness to receive” (p90). Playing on the same phrasing my wife uses, Holden suggests that, “what once looked like a dead end now becomes a way out, i.e., opportunity is nowhere becomes opportunity is now here” (p224).
Two very accessible reads by two well established writers and practitioners on the path to choosing vibrant agreements with your self, the first step towards more vibrant agreements with self, other, group, nature, and spirit.