February is the month of Valentine’s Day – a time to celebrate love, romance and gifts of acknowledging the important relationships in our lives.  So, this month, the focus of “TED* Thoughts” will be on applying TED* to relationships.

A while back, I received the following email from an individual who had read The Power of TED* and was challenged to apply it in their primary relationship:

I’ve been re-reading The Power of TED*… I understand and it makes a whole lot of sense, about focusing on the outcomes – the positive.  In TED* you write about changing from the Victim Orientation to Creator. The Victim focuses on problems and what she doesn’t want. While a Creator focuses on a vision or an outcome.

In a relationship, the person who has a victim orientation would see a circumstance that comes up that is a problem, and address it as a problem.  Say it is a recurring problem that the other person continually does (behavior), and the person in the victim orientation gets upset about it and an argument ensues. If the person has a Creator Orientation, this does not make the behavior/problem go away.

The behavior/problem continues. So how does having a Creator Orientation change the circumstance?  If the person focuses on what they want the outcome to be (envisioning a different behavior than the one she is seeing) – then what does one do with that? 

Here was my response:

Your question is a good one – and my response may not be all that satisfying.  The reason is that one cannot “create” an envisioned outcome for another person.  In my relationship with my wife, for instance, if there was a behavior of hers that I deemed as a problem (not that it ever happens in our relationship – LOL!), I could “tell the truth about my current reality” (how the behavior impacts me); share why it is important to me and the relationship; and request an alternate behavior.

However, whether or not she responds to my request is going to be – in the end – up to her.

If her behavior does not change, then – as a Creator – I would need to “see current reality for what it is” (not what I want it to be) and then to explore what my range of choices are in response to the continued behavior. Depending on the situation, it may necessitate setting certain boundaries or disengaging/withdrawing when the behavior occurs. While easier said than done, I would tell her up-front and before the behavior occurs what my response will be when it does happen.

One of the most difficult realities we face in relationships is coming to see that we cannot make the other person in the relationship change.  All we can do – ultimately – is to choose our response to the situation.  You are absolutely correct that adopting a Creator Orientation does not necessarily mean that problems – or, in this case, a particular problem – goes away.  By requesting what we want, things might change and they might not.   This is especially true in intimate and personal relationships.

Adopting a Creator Orientation, unfortunately, is not a panacea for all the challenges we face.  Problems are part of the human experience.  However, we increase our resilience and resourcefulness when we meet those challenges from a Creator Orientation.-