Responsibility Answers: How do I get What I Want in Family Relationships

“The truth in dealing with relationships is that none of us are any good at changing other people. We can believe that they should be different. We can try to make them different, but they don’t have to comply.”

Responsibility Answers

How do I get What I Want From Family Relationships?

Helen asked, “Christopher, how can I get my sister to clean up the kitchen?” She went on to explain that she asks her sister nicely, her sister says, “I’ll do it later,” and goes to her room. When Helen more loudly nags, or tells the sister she’s not doing it, then mom comes and does it for her. Helen says mom should be resting.

I could clearly see, from Helen’s email. that she was coping below the line, although she was trying to say it very nicely. The issue is that her problem was her sister, which is below the line on The Responsibility Process® chart.

I didn’t just give Helen advice at this point. I emailed her back, and I asked “If you could have it the way you wanted it, what would that look like? Describe it to me.”

Helen described a list of duties and behaviors that her sister would take on, and that her mom would be able rest and be more relaxed.

I still wasn’t seeing exact Responsibility Thinking, because she was still looking at what she wanted to solve outside of her.

I wrote her back one more time and I said, “Fabulous list. Now, what do you want for yourself in this situation? What would it look like for you? What would you be experiencing?”

Helen wrote back and talked about the clean house, and the peace and calm, and the people keeping agreements that she’d be experiencing. Now, I had something to work with. So I wrote back to her, and I made the following points.

The truth in dealing with relationships is that none of us are any good at changing other people. We can believe that they should be different. We can try to make them different, but they don’t have to comply.

They may not comply.

The first place we start in relationships is realizing that we don’t always get what we want from others. It’s up to us to make sure that our own wants and needs are met in that situation.

However, there are things you can do to encourage change from others. You can very clearly ask. You can shower them with love and kindness, not niceness. You can make and keep agreements.

You can shore up your own boundaries. If you do a little examining, you might find that you’ve allowed your own boundaries to be loose and slippery, and now you’re feeling a little violated. So you can re-shore those up.

What I put in place here, what I wanted to walk Helen through, are the keys to Responsibility.

There’s intention, which is understanding what you want. In this case, understanding what you want that you’re not getting. Agreements aren’t being kept & the kitchen isn’t being cleaned.

There’s awareness, identifying where you are in The Responsibility Process.

Then there’s confront, meaning to actually examine your own thinking, examine your own thoughts, and assumptions. Am I shoulding on somebody? Is there some truth I’m not seeing? What can I change in order to get more of what I want?

That’s my thinking about how to get more of what you want in relationships.

Here’s something you can do today.

Think of one relationship that’s on your mind where you’re not getting what you want in that relationship – and apply the three keys.

Intention: what do you want for yourself, not what do you want them to do to change. What do you want for yourself in this relationship?

Awareness: where are you in The Responsibility Process around this relationship? How can you get yourself to the mental state of Responsibility?

In the mental state of Responsibility you can more cleanly and clearly ask for what you want, or negotiate for what you want, or more cleanly set your boundaries.

Finally, what is there that you get to confront in your own thinking about why this situation is persisting? What would change in you, in order for this situation to get better for you, for you to be lighter about this relationship?

Send all your questions to I look forward to hearing from you.

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