I want to address a very common desire my clients express to me one way or another: “I just want to be a good person. HOW do I be a good person?”
As there are very many philosophers of today and from history I, too, have my opinions…
There are three elements I impress upon my clients that foster this desire to be a good person:
Accountability; Validation; Effort.
I must emphasize that these are not buzz words to me. Many other adjectives could fit under these “umbrellas,” but these are the concepts I cultivate and they are applicable to every relationship with Self and Others.
To support this opinion of mine, one could research Attachment Theory where Bowlby and Ainsworth examine Warmth and Structure in childrearing, https://www.simplypsychology.org/attachment.html. I broke down Warmth and Structure to better understand what each would actually look like.
Structure is best witnessed through Accountability. Accountability looks like follow-through/follow-up, consistency, and includes consequences (good and bad).
Warmth is best witnessed through Validation. Validation looks like compliments, pride, praise, recognition, apologies, thank you’s, and being Present in the other’s Pain.
Effort looks like the time, money, and energy invested into a task meant to cultivate a relationship. There must be an acceptance of the inherent learning curve experienced in forming new habits/breaking old habits. This is where Forgiveness can be practiced. (I’ll speak on Forgiveness very soon).
Accountability cultivates Trust Development with both Self and Others.
Validation cultivates Love for Self and Others.
Effort is the catalyst to efficacy.
I expand and elaborate their applications during each session.
It is as sad a phenomenon as it is common, that clients do not always recognize that though there is ample and very sincere Love in a relationship, Trust is lacking. And it’s not always as apparent as infidelity or lying.
Love is unconditional. That’s why it’s so beautiful, some say magical. To be accepted with no strings attached is so inviting and encouraging. It feels safe just to be your awkward, imperfect Self.
Trust has many demanding conditions. Yeah, there’s some pressure here; that’s appropriate. One can better trust when the other is predictable. Predictability is shaped by consistency. One can trust better when the other can take ownership of faults or mistakes, ensuring a chance to move forward with awareness and hope. Being predictable and accountable provides a situation of safety. One can trust better when one feels safe.
“How do I prove that I’m sorry? That I love him?”
It’s not as romantic as the movies. Movies are meant to entertain us. I tend to apologize when all the answer there is, is accountability, validation, and effort. Over and over again. And over again. Then again. See how that’s not so romantic or entertaining??
My job is to support (I could get specific but I digress) your attempts in these three elements, to establish and maintain a momentum in this pursuit. One way I do so is through anxiety management because no one actually likes to patiently wait for change, growth, improvements. But of course that, and Forgiveness, is a whole other post…