Shop Your List, Not the Store

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When I saw this title on a blog post delivered to me from one of my favorite websites – Food 52, I immediately thought - oh yes! I agree. Although I am thinking in the context of relationships.

This idea of shopping your list is a literal analogy for developing the most satisfying relationships.  

 If you shop your list at the market, then you will come home with precisely what you intended (and need) for the week. You are less likely to buy foods that you don’t want, or are not serving your diet.  You will spend less money and be fully nourished.  And, from time to time you can make ‘powerful exceptions’. Powerful exceptions are well thought out.  These exceptions assume knowing the reason you are making the choice to go off course as you do it —possibly offering you spontaneity, freedom, joy, pleasure, savings, adventure (maybe you see something you have never tried before and it is on sale).

When looking for new and creating existing relationships I encourage you to shop your list.

What list??!

Do you have a list?  I find that most people don’t.  I think it is the very next step you must take if you want to change the quality of your relationships.  You can begin with a list of strategies things people do.

An example of this list might be:  

1. They have a good job.
2. They like to travel.
3. They have a great sense of humor.  
4. They are honest and like horror films.  

This is not the list I am talking about.  I am asking that you dig a little deeper and find the list of experiences you want inside the relationship.

 An example of this list is:
1.  Honesty
2.  Intimacy
3.  Joy
4.  Companionship
5.  Compassion
6.  Security
7.  Adventure

The first list is a list of what someone else is doing.  In this list you outsource your happiness based on what someone else is doing, or not doing.  You are likely destined to stay in the blame game with this list, and very likely become unhappy over time when things change.

For example, you meet the person with the wonderful job and travels a lot (from the first list).  You fall ‘in love’, partner up, live well and travel the world together. Then they lose their job.  They still love to travel.  And because of the change, they quite possibly anticipate that you will be footing the bill for the travel.  Now you are in a bind.  Are you doomed to have an unhappy relationship for eternity?  

Can you see how the second list incorporates the activities you might do in the first list, yet offers a broader vision of what you want to experience.  The second list also is self-referent.  Meaning you are a part of creating the relationship you want.  You can then add or delete as life changes.  For example, if having a job is really a strategy to meet your need for security, and them liking to travel meets the need for adventure, then if the job goes away, the conversation about how to meet your security need and adventure needs can be very creative.  

It makes a difference.

Here’s an example of how the second list will serve you having the quality of relationships you want and the first list will not.  It is simple and happens over and over.

List 1.  They are honest

List 2.  honesty

Sometimes in relationship honesty occurs on a continuum. We want our partners to be honest. And they seem to be when we meet them. Yet if they say something we don’t like or agree with, we can often make it harder and harder for someone ‘to be honest’, with our responses.  If we are committed to honesty then both (or all) people in a relationship are responsible for creating the conditions, or environment for everyone to speak honestly and listen with curiosity. 

If you want relationships that you (mostly) enjoy, do these two things:

1.  Make a list. The quality of life you intend to meet inside each relationship you either want or already have.

2.  Shop your list.