Happy beautiful Sunday! It’s 2 weeks into 2020 – how is everyone hanging in there with your goals or resolutions? As this day gets started, I am extra grateful this morning. I’ve been able to spend one on one time with both of my daughters this weekend. Which as Hannah gets older can be a rarity. It’s not always as cool for the teenagers to ‘chill’ with the parents!

And in some downtime, or should I call it uptime since it was in the middle of the night, I found myself thinking about relationships. And more the transactional nature of our relationships.

I do believe there’s a consumerist element that contributes to some of these behaviors. We feel better (smarter?) when we ’negotiate’ a deal. We buy one pair of shoes and we can get the second 50% off. I mean c’mon, that’s amazing when your outfitting 4 growing kids. Or we get the best pricing on a new vehicle because it’s a ‘December to remember’. Building a house, well this month it comes with a gourmet kitchen. Especially in the culture here in the US, people subscribe to their local Sunday newspaper to cut coupons. What if things were just priced at the fair market value all the time. I truly just want to know how much that box of Wheatie’s should cost, bottom line, no coupon necessary.

In our personal lives, from an early age, through High School, College and careers. For many of us, it becomes ingrained that there is an input/output nature to our relationships. From simpler things. Want to watch your favorite show? Finish your homework or do your chores. Hoping for a specific output, then we craft a very specific input. Sit in the front of class to get a better grade. Johnny’s birthday? ‘Well Mom, I have to get him the super ninja double toy thingy. It’s what he really wants. And if I get it, we’ll be best friends‘. We make decisions and take actions, sometimes sacrificing our beliefs, to hang out with the cool kids at lunch and get invited to the cool parties. How is that college application looking? Try some community service to add to your chances of admission. Need your team to work late or on a weekend? Bring in the coffee, donuts or pizza.

To more extreme situations. You want person A to love you? Well, tailor your behaviors to what you think that person wants. Only dinners at the best restaurants. Buy that car, or that house. How many of us know stories of people marrying to facilitate expected outcomes.

Relationships at home, school or work can boil down to managing to our expectations, or the outputs. And when our expectations aren’t met, we tend to resort to judgement. How many of us use blame when an outcome isn’t as expected. We can develop a sort of self loathing. Or we turn anger and blame outwards. Partner A was a ‘%*$#’ no one in their right mind would… John is a ‘#@%’ and I wouldn’t want to work for them anyway. Company ABC is a horrible place to work. I’ll just take my talents to Company XYZ.

We can end up in a cycle of focusing on what WE want in the end. To get something we do something. Input for the output. Not for the beauty of the input. And I have been here, for the majority of my life. So if you find yourself in a similar situation, how do we break this cycle?

As I write these things, it sounds simple and straightforward. But it’s been some of the most intense personal development work I’ve had to do – and am still practicing every day.

1. Focus on the input – Be present in your interactions. Share a smile for the smile. Give a hug for the hug.

2. Release expectations – My smile outwards is for me. I love to smile. Smile back and it’s a bonus.

3. No judgement – No smiling back. That’s ok, I have no idea what it feels like in your shoes.

3. Trust the work – The outcomes will be there. And even if they don’t feel like they’re what we wanted. They’re the right outcomes for that situation.

4. Return to #1 – Its the inputs baby!

As I said, this is something I am working on everyday. It’s not necessarily the easiest of work. But it is SO worth it. Let me know some of your strategies for making the inputs of your relationships first.

Sending love, light and laughter ❤️🙏