Relationships: The Power of GoodwillBy Dr. Margaret Paul
March 12, 2007
The practice of goodwill has far reaching benefits for yourself, for your relationships, and with your higher power.
Research into good marriages indicates that one of the most important choices healthy couples make is to have goodwill toward each other. This may seems like a simple requirement, yet many couples have anything but goodwill toward each other. Instead, they make it far more important to:
- Attempt to control each other with criticism, judgments, blame, anger, resistance, withdrawal, or compliance.
- Be right, win, and not be controlled by their partner rather than be open and loving.
- Make their partner responsible for their feelings rather than take responsibility for their own pain and joy.
- Numb out and avoid responsibility for themselves with various addictions that have negative effects on the relationship, such as using alcohol, drugs, food, TV, gambling, work, and so on.
Keep their eyes on their partner and what he or she is doing wrong or should do differently, rather than on themselves and whether or not they are coming from goodwill.
What does it mean to have goodwill? Goodwill means that:
- Kindness is more important to you than being right or controlling your partner - kindness toward both yourself and your partner.
- You care deeply about how your behavior affects yourself, your partner, and the relationship.
- You do whatever inner work you need to do to heal addictive behaviors that are causing problems in the relationship.
- You always have your own highest good and your partner's highest good at heart. You receive joy from supporting your partner in what bring him or her joy.
- You are open to learning from your conflicts about yourself and your partner.
- You are devoted to doing inner work to learn to take full responsibility for your own feelings of pain and joy rather than making your partner responsible for your feelings.
Goodwill does not necessarily mean being "nice." Niceness is another form of control when comes with an agenda: "If I am nice to you, you will be nice to me."
Goodwill has no agenda other than the desire to be a loving person.
It is a decision that you make for yourself, not a choice that is dependent upon your partner's behavior.
One person being devoted to goodwill can have a huge positive effect on the relationship. When you decide that having goodwill is very important to you, you are on the road to not being reactive to your partner. Your lack of reactivity in conflict completely changes the relationship dynamic. Your partner's behavior will likely change toward more goodwill in the face of your kindness and lack of reactivity, but even if it doesn't, you will feel much better having goodwill than being angry, blaming, critical, compliant, or withdrawn.
One way of looking at maintaining goodwill is to see it as part of a spiritual journey. Learning to keep your heart open to kindness and caring toward both yourself and others is the essence of the spiritual journey. The kinder you are to yourself, the kinder you are able to be with your partner and others. The benefits of embracing goodwill as your primary way of being toward yourself, go far beyond creating a healthy relationship with your partner and others. Your goodwill toward yourself is what leads to creating a healthy relationship with your higher power.
The ability to consistently show goodwill to yourself and others is a practice - not something that just happens. The more you practice Inner Bonding, the more you will naturally have goodwill toward yourself and others.
Heal your relationship with Dr. Margaret’s 30-Day online video relationship course: Wildly, Deeply, Joyously in Love.
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