Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Importance of Living Life… “Congruently”

The double entendre in the title of my pop-psych book, Living Life, Anyway, captures it all. Living life is what it’s all about -– not existing through life or struggling through life, but living life. Moreover, you can live your life anyway -– anyway meaning “any way you want to live your life,” and anyway meaning “in spite of the unwanted and undeserved dirty deals your life may have handed you.”

In Living Life, Anyway, the beginning of Chapter Six, "Living Life… Congruently," paints the basic picture of congruence:

“Live life congruently,” what does that mean? Essentially, it means living your life concordantly and consonantly, living in such a way that all parts of your life are in agreement with, in harmony with, and in concert with each other. The opposite perspective, i.e., living your life incongruently, would suggest that you live one part of your life one way and another part of your life another way, or that in one situation you are one way and in another situation you are another way.”

Interestingly, The Advanced NLP Mastery Group discusses the importance of “congruency” and states: “The lack of congruence leads to mixed feelings, lack of focus, self sabotaging repeating patterns, lack of motivation and much more.” And for those interested, Dr. Phil McGraw has what he calls the Test of Congruency. If you take the test, he says, “The profile that follows will help you see the degree to which your current life experience — how you are thinking, feeling, and living — compares to what your experience would be if you were living an ideal, fully authentic, and fulfilling life.”

In one of my recent contemporary romance novels. Fear of Feeling Loved, Marcia knows she is falling deeper and deeper in love with Jack. But the incongruency between what they say and don’t say to each other as well as how they act and not act around each other – “when in their local professional environment” versus “when they are out of town in a casual environment” – begins to drive her crazy.

Question: Have you ever felt incongruent or been in an incongruent relationship?



Anonymous said...

I think it would be difficult not to feel incongruent at times. My wife and I want a certain type of lifestyle - nice house, nice cars, lots of time with the kids, relaxed weekends, vacations, etc. The problem is that many of those take money. Since neither she nor I come from money we have to work very hard in order to afford these things. The harder we work, the less time we have with the kids, the less time we have for vacations, the weekends may not be as relaxed as we hoped because Monday is looming. Sometimes we can wind up being our own worst enemies.

Our main thing is to always make sure we are on the same page. If one of us has a lot going on at work (or elsewhere), we always make sure the other knows about it ahead of time. If we know ahead of time that a week or two are going to be rough, we set the expectations and act accordingly. Maybe we eat out more that week to cut down on the stress of cooking, cleaning, and shopping. The kids like it better also because it's a treat for them as well.

I guess it is a common theme for us but the more we communicate, the better everything else seems to fall into place.

Hope you had a great 4th!

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hello Maconole,
Thanks for another insightful Comment.
I would not necessarily say that what you at time are experiencing would be “incongruency.” Not always being able to have what you want and do what you want is more akin to “disappointment.” As long as you and your wife communicate and are on the same page with common/non-juxtaposed values, priorities, wishes, wants and desires – you have a congruent relationship (even though Sunday night may be an early-to-bed night because of an early bell Monday morning).
As you clearly depict, loving, healthy, congruent relationships don’t just happen – they’re worked on… together.
I’m happy with and for you and your wife (and for your children as well, and I’m not just talking about going out to eat on busy weeknights – you’re modeling healthy, personal and interdependent relationship behavior).
Thanks again,

Julia Phillips Smith said...

My incongruency problems are with my mom, whom my husband and I live with. My mom is my grandma's primary caregiver, and I'm the relief pitcher. In order to take care of Gram, my mom has had to rearrange her life in a way that keeps her from doing most of the things she'd like to do. She would definitely say she is one person while living the life of another person.

The irony of that is my own double life. I moved home from my life in Toronto to take on a caregiving role far away from all the things that make me feel like me. My mom and I recognize our situations and try very hard to build some sort of balance into our living arrangement so we don't go stark raving mad. I think we'd both agree that we're far from being our authentic selves, even though we try like hell to hang onto ourselves.

This is the household of a 92-year-old grandmother (who's doing pretty good, really), a 65-year-old daughter/mother who is a very vivacious and extroverted artist who no longer goes out much, a 43-year-old rapid-cycling bipolar husband who trained to be an actor but works at Blockbuster, a 42-year-old film school grad who writes manuscripts and blogs, works a fulltime day job and looks after the mom and gram and dog, and a 6-year-old beagle/Nova Scotia duck toller mix who melts everyone's heart with her happy dog smile.

I'm the big cheerleader in this group. I keep everyone's spirits up. Luckily my husband and my dog keep my spirits up. But I've realized often that a large part of my personality is a caregiver, or I wouldn't be doing this.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi again Julia,

I truly appreciate your dilemmas and wish I had something to offer that would ease some of your frustrations. Nonetheless, I do have a comment.

As I read your Comment, I didn’t necessarily see “incongruency” – I actually saw “congruency.” Yes, I can appreciate that at your young and energetic age there are many other things you’d prefer doing other than working and attending to your gram, mom, husband and dog. (I wonder if at times you think, “The only time I take care of me is when I eat and sleep.”) However, if you are the kind of individual who believes that when someone loves someone and has family members who need them, then one attends to their needs. (And I tend to believe that’s true about you.) Thus, assuming that that’s true, your behavior is consistent with your philosophical beliefs – you’re being congruent. Please try to remember, there’s a difference between frustration and disappointment and incongruence.

If you are feeling good about yourself (for being true to yourself and taking care of others, then that’s a good thing). Maybe with some better time management and planning, however, you can fit in a little more “Julia-time.” As I frequently have said, verbally as well in my writing, “If you can’t take care of yourself, you’re probably not doing that good of a job taking care of anyone else.”
“Hang in there kiddo…” I just said to you with a smile,


Julia Phillips Smith said...

LOL - that's two of us who figured our frustration/disappointment were incongruent. I'm actually proud of what my little "Walton's" bunch manages to do in our multi-generational home. It really is a time-management problem for me. I end up chipping away time out of my sleep in order to feel like I have more time to myself. Then I just end up exhausted.

Dr. Bill Emener said...

Hi Julia,
Yes, LOL! Maybe brilliant minds do occasionally think alike.
Okay, so you have found a way to carve out some time for you – by taking it away from you. At this point in time, however, that may be your only option (if you are going to continue to be true to your convictions regarding taking care of your family). My mom had an expression, nonetheless, that is befitting: “Just because you rearrange the food on your plate doesn’t necessarily mean that there’s any less on it.”
Hang in there kiddo… there are many cogs in the wheel of life – this is just one of them.