Consistency is one of the most important parts of all of the relationships we have: relationships with loved ones, lovers and self. Consistency requires discipline and a clear sense of ones values. Many times the conflict that arises in our relationships arises from a divergence in values that we believe are shared. While the word we might use to describe a particular value might be the same, the degree to which we exercise it in an interaction might differ considerably. The value that we apply in a particular interaction and our understanding of the differences in our shared values contribute much to the cost of consistency.
Many times we find ourselves doing something because that is the way we have seen it done, as in parenting .We are authoritative without explanation and often expect obedience despite the fact we are raising little humans who experience the world by the opportunities we do and don’t allow them to take. We sometimes wrongly interpret questions as defiance instead of genuine curiosity. We get angry with them for questioning our authority, instead of considering the fact that an explanation of our rationale could be sufficient. In consistency being seen as the “boss” in the relationship, we often rob ourselves of the opportunity to get to know the children we are raising.
The same hold true in our other relationships. We might decide there are only certain roles we are allowed to fulfill in relationship. We decide that asking for help is a sign of weakness. We decide that men can’t be in touch with their emotions and that women must only nurture, can never show tough love. We decide that parents must only support our dreams, sacrifice and parent us throughout their lives- even when our own parents haven’t ever completely shown up in that regard. In demanding consistency we do not allow room for deviation; we don’t always allow people to show up as who they are.
What can we do to change this? We have to examine the root of our desire for consistency. What is it that we believe to be true about ourselves, our relationships, our world that we allow to hold us captive? What is at risk if we decide to change our minds?
In the unraveling, we have to ask ourselves about the motivation or the “why” behind our actions. Are we angry with children, partners or friends for not appreciating the effort it took us to buy a gift, to provide a lifestyle, to show up in a certain way? Are we seeking some measure of external validation for the choices we have made?
What we seek in asking ourselves these questions is balance. What we find in answering the questions might be unsettling. We might find that we aren’t very confident in the “why “ behind our actions. We might find that some of the things we believe that we do for benefit of others are also a way we prove to ourselves that we are the person, parent, or friend we wish we had or want to be. We might find that we don’t feel like we have the freedom to who we are, instead of who society tells us we should be.
When the doing of a thing, the repetition of an act becomes a habit it becomes something we do without thinking. Sometimes the cost of consistency is thoughtless reaction to and interaction with the world around us.