An acquaintance recently told me about some conflict they’d been having with their partner, and something they said really struck me. They felt like their partner wasn’t attentive to their needs, and so one day they decided to “do an experiment,” not mention their needs, and see how their partner would respond–whether they would pick up on things without being asked, etc.

Now, if I had heard this even five years ago, it would have sounded completely reasonable to me. In fact, this is something that I did in relationships (and in hindsight, with anywhere from disappointing to disastrous results). Rather than stating my needs clearly, I wanted my partner to read my mind, know what I wanted, and do it. Piece of cake, right? Geez.

I’ve already written about the importance of identifying and communicating your needs, because it has been such a game changer for me, but a new layer of understanding came through while listening to this person talk about their experience.

One phrase in particular really stood out, because I’ve heard myself say this in the past and I’ve also heard it echoed by friends and family in similar situations. Instead of stating needs explicitly, the person decides to stay silent and “see what the other person will do.” That’s the phrase: “See what the other person will do.”

Why is this important?

Well, meditating on this phrase led me to see the foregone conclusion at play. In truth, this person typically isn’t entering the situation with an open, curious mind–no, they’re fairly certain the other person is going to disappoint. In a sense, there’s almost a warped hope that they do disappoint, just so the experimenter can be proven right.

And more importantly, they’re stacking the odds against the other person by not revealing that a game is even being “played,” withholding the rules, and omitting information that would help them succeed.

In short, they’re setting the other person up to fail.

And usually in these rigged conditions, the other person does just that, and the person running the experiment “proves” their hypothesis that their partner isn’t attentive to their needs and they continue feeling disappointed and dissatisfied. (And if their partner tunes into the fact that they’re being subjected to these experiments, they understandably feel manipulated and angry.)

I believe that underlying this entire process is a distrust in the Universe.

There’s a spiritual saying, “The Universe has your back,” which I remember chafing at back in the day because it most certainly did not feel like the Universe had my back. Quite the contrary. I had very little trust that things would work out the way I wanted them to, and I was accustomed to being disappointed.

From this place, I ran cynical experiments like the one above to solidify the paradigm I’d adopted of the Universe being out to get me. And because I rigged the rules to ensure that I was “right,” I successfully orchestrated experiences that left me feeling like a victim.

Let’s try on a different paradigm.

When I trust that the Universe is conspiring in my favor, I no longer feel the need to create these little tests and trials for other people (or for myself), because on a subconscious level, it’s as if I step into my role of being a part of a Universe that has everyone’s back.

I no longer want to be a cog in the machine of “everything’s stacked against me” by creating situations for other people in which everything really is stacked against them.

Looking back, I think the changes I’ve made in this area came from allowing my trust in the Universe to expand, even just a little bit, which then led to releasing some of my desires to set myself and others up to fail, and so on it went, one step at a time, choice by choice.

The key, though, is that I didn’t wait for the Universe to prove to me that it was trustworthy. I was sick and tired of hanging onto the paradigm that the Universe was out to get me, so I set the intention to release it.

And when I reverted back to my old habits, I set the intention again.

And again.

And you know what? This new paradigm feels a whole lot better than the old one. I might not be “right” all of the time, but like that other spiritual saying goes, “Would you rather be right…or happy?”

And with that, have a happy holiday season, my friends!

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