The following list of co-commitments has been essential on our own relating process as founders of ASHA, and with all relationships around us.
Being as neither Anthony nor Amy wish to take a “guru role” as founders, we invite you to read this document and consider it. It is important that you are in agreement with it if you choose to come to ASHA, either for a visit or to become a member for longer term. These co-commitments are adapted from the relational work of Gay and Katie Hendricks from the Hendricks Institute and their book Conscious Loving.
Really it is an agreement, that each individual makes to foster an alive, creative relationship. Because each person takes 100% responsibility for the results and outcomes in their life, there is never “anything left in the middle”. You know what it is like when a relationship consists of unspoken feelings and thoughts. It becomes clouded, shrouded and ever less honest. Eventually, there is an elephant in the room that gets bigger and bigger, until there isn’t any room left to breathe, and the relationship cannot survive.
When each party takes 100% responsibility, there are no victims, because we each realise we are here in this situation having made a series of choices. That means, if we are unhappy, that we look back at the series of choices it took us to get here, and see where there could have been different choices made.
Remember the excitement you felt when you fell in love? The endless boundless energy you felt in your heart? Perhaps just by walking into the room, the presence of your beloved makes your day brighter, your heart warmer, and fills you with gratitude?
These are the easiest moments in relationship because the energy is so strong and vibrant. It really feels like being alive.
A co-creative relationship fosters those feelings all the time. Instead of the brilliance fading slowly - or sometimes not so slowly! - there is a buoyancy and lightness of being that is exciting. A co-creative relationship doesn’t fade, but it does need care, and the co-commitments create a container for that care to be present all the time.
You can click on the commitment to get a more complete explanation of its meaning.
This is simple but not always easy. Society offers us all kinds of ways not to feel, from pills, alcohol and shopping, to distraction, dissociation and denial. But how can we hope to be whole human beings if we are not willing to feel? There are so many secrets hidden behind the feelings we hide from, and it is only by feeling that we can reach the wisdom that lies in each of us.
Instead of being emotionally constipated, when our feelings are allowed to flow we can celebrate spontaneity and a healthy psyche too!
This is not about becoming a nag. Neither is it “I have to tell you a microscopic truth, which is that you really bug me when you leave toothpaste on the edge of the sink”!
But there is an artful way to tell the truth, and it needs to be done without making the other person wrong. In fact it is exposing what is going on for you, not from them. You are also speaking factually, without interpretation. When you listen to arguments, or even worse when you are in one, you don’t listen. In fact you are thinking about what you want to say rather than receiving the other person. So microscopic truth is not about niggling, interrupting, and putting forward your point of view. It’s about expressing the truth. Imagine this scenario: I am having dinner with my wife in a restaurant. I notice she keeps looking over my shoulder, so I turn around to check. Sure enough, there is some hunky, good looking guy there, and I can feel a wave of jealousy surge up my chest. Ouch!
What are my options here? Pretend it isn’t happening? Get angry or say something bitchy? Move my chair so I am in the way? Criticise her for not paying me attention?
Well, as much as we know that none of these reactions will help, most of us will do one of these things – or something else equally damaging – rather than tell our microscopic truth.
But if I say, remembering that I am accepting 100% responsibility for the way my life is showing up for me: “Hey, can I share something really tender with you? I am noticing that when you look over my shoulder, that first of all there is a hunky guy there, and then I get this rush of feeling, that, oh my, it scares me. It feels like I am jealous and it sits there like a rock. I get frightened that you will leave me.”
Then a different outcome can occur.
We are not trained or skilled in telling the truth. In fact we are trained to do the opposite, so it’s become normal to be concerned about hurting someone’s feelings, actually withholding truth rather than speaking it.
Speaking the micro-truth is essential though, because if we don’t, then sticky stones sit in our heart. So even if it seems difficult, try get used to it with the small things, and notice and acknowledge yourself for building the muscle that will make it easy and normal.
This is critical, as by making agreements and not showing up for them we are damaging the foundation of relationship. Sure it happens that we have change of plans, or something unforeseen comes up. Best practice? If you unconsciously break an agreement, take note of it, express your awareness that it has happened, and take your responsibility. That gives you a fresh start, and you can renew your commitment to keeping agreements from that point onward.
Here is also the opportunity to be aware of the unconscious agreements that we make, as these can be equally damaging. This can be a bit of a brain-twister, but if we unconsciously agree that we don’t have to keep our agreements, then we are in trouble!
If you are truly coming into a community, you are entering relationship. If you are not willing to be close, you are undermining unity and the possibility of that relationship thriving.
Sometimes it is hard, if you feel hurt or wounded. But know that the wound comes from the past, and although it may have been awakened or triggered, the opportunity is for you to attend to the wound, not to shoot the messenger. Besides, we know that we don’t want to hurt each other, but sometimes, as humans, we do, even unintentionally.
Ask yourself, what would it take me to be close? Could using the microscopic truth be the pathway back to intimacy again? Know that for every moment that you are denying closeness, you are unconsciously investing in separateness.
The previous commitment was to closeness, this one is to being an individual. It is worth noticing the difference between spaciousness and distance. How can you be close, and yet maintain the spaciousness you need to be a creative force both within and outside your relationships? By seeing to your own development and sovereignty as an individual.
If you find you hold yourself back because you are ‘waiting’ for your partner or friend to catch up, you are likely to start storing resentments. Even though you may be doing it because you think it keeps you closer, at a deeper level, deep in your heart, you are actually creating more separation.
It may seem strange at first, to ask for space. Many think that it means having to push someone away. But remember, you can be close and have space. It might seem like a rare combination to you, but all the more reason to bring these two possibilities into being.
If you do not give yourself the space to be 100% who you are, then you cannot show up wholly for any relationship. Awarding yourself this simple human right will take away the feelings of needing to run away in order to be safe. After all, with the tools you are learning here, there is a way to have your cake and eat it too!
This is the other side of commitment number 5. If you honour this commitment, then you will only encourage others to reach for their own excellence. You will know that holding them back for any reason – especially that you fear being left behind – will only be an unconscious investment in being left behind!
This commitment eliminates co-dependence, which would be about restricting anther’s behaviour in order to feel safe. Think of how say it is to rain on someone else’s parade, and what it feels like when they do that to you!
Here is a chance to end that sort of behaviour completely, with just a few new co-commitments!
Think of how much energy is consumed trying to be what others want you to be, or even worse, what you think they want you to be?
Then, imagine the feeling of freedom and safety of just being you, being enough. Breathe a sigh of relief as you learn that the old code of having to hide who you are doesn’t just ‘not work’, but is actively damaging the wholeness and unity of relationship.
So, are you willing to rewrite the old script the world has lived yay in order to do your part to co-create a new reality?
Perhaps the keystone of all of the co-commitments, this one, even alone, changes everything. Think about how many ‘blaming statements’ come up in normal conversations? All of those “why don’t you ever…?”, or “I don’t feel heard?” Sentences that you can feel draining your energy when you hear them. Perhaps even more so when you find yourself saying them!
If you make this co-commitment, be prepared to forgive yourself for falling into old traps! What it will do is bring to your awareness just how often we export our own responsibility onto others. It’s something we have done for a lifetime, blaming siblings, school friends, parents and authority itself for our ills. But blaming doesn’t help. It drains, and it disempowers.
If we are not prepared to take the wheel of our life we can only be a passenger. Making this commitment is the most powerful declaration that we can make that we not only accept responsibility for our situation, but that we claim it eagerly, just as if you would of your own vehicle if it were running ff the road!
So, when a statement wants to come out like “I don’t feel heard.”, would you be willing to think of an empowered way to express your experience, such as “ I am clearly not communicating effectively. Let me see if I can find a better way.”
See how many times you can catch yourself making statements that give you power away. Write them down and collect them. Then, when you have some time to reflect, see how you can restate them in a more empowered way.
Well, this one doesn’t need much explanation. But if you are not prepared to have fun, then you will rarely have it. What about budgeting some time for yourself or yourselves, doing something that you enjoy? The importance of making this choice can’t be underestimated, because joy and happiness are our birthright. Do you remember as a kid how you could have fun just getting dirty? Can you remember the things that made you giggle or burst into exuberance?
What on earth happened? How did we fall into the trap of accepting adulthood as a sentence to banality and boredom?
I remember how as a child I would hear adults make comments like “Ah, you should enjoy life more. When I think back, those were the best years of my life.” How depressing is that? What kind of a message is that to a youngster? Add to that that we got used to seeing adults being serious almost all of the time. Is it any wonder that we associate relationships with restriction and suffering?
Well, here we take a stand for making space for fun. Let’s do this!
I have added this co-commitment as it is the most valuable consideration I can ponder, and it never goes away. This commitment has given me all the material I need to meet all the other commitments here, and it keeps me eternally focused on how I can best show up in the world. It also calls me into growth, to understand how I can be a better leader of my own inner orchestra of inner “parts”.
Here is an example: Say someone tells me something that wounds me. I could lash out, or crumble into depression. Alternatively, I could ask myself, which part of me is it that is wounded? It might be the part of me that feels like he doesn’t belong, or is frightened of being abandoned. It might be a part of me that has been traumatised by an event of the past.
Taking responsibility for these “parts” of me gives me the ability to give myself the support that I need. I can become the caretaker of my own being, and by embracing these parts of who I am, I grow into more consciousness, more presence and more creativity than I can have if I stay hidden in a narrative that doesn’t serve me – or anyone else.
Without my love and embrace, these parts cannot belong, and if they don’t belong or are put into the closet, then how will I ever feel that I belong?
As my dear friend Rick Smith once said: “Unconditional love is loving ourselves in all our conditions”
Our community at ASHA is an intentional one. The call is to bring a commitment to uplifting consciousness. In order to create a sustainable and conscious community around us, we need to make sure that in our deeper self that we are coming into unity.
Co-commitment takes more than one! Indeed, if you are in a relationship, and the the other party is not willing to join you in these choices, it can be challenging.
But I have also found over the years, that the more I learn to live with these, the more people I attract into my life that feel the same way. Thats why these are the framework for our community at ASHA. We may not have a guru, but we do believe in something bigger than the human ego, and by abiding to the co-commitments, we can co-create a new standard of living that can invite others to do the same, by example. The choice is yours. What will you do?