How many times do we complain about the things we had to sacrifice in life in order to get what we want? I’d like to discuss this term, Sacrifice, Kari, and its juxtaposition to its altogether gentler cousin, Compromise.
So why is it that we place so much emphasis on the word, Sacrifice? Why do we expend so much of our energy, agonising helplessly in its grip? It’s just a word, after all! Well, it’s more than just a word—it’s a concept too.
There are of course many interpretations of the meaning of the word, as well as what it represents, but generally speaking, when we use it in our thinking, it carries many negative connotations, derived from having to offer up or give up something of significance to us.
As I repeat, ‘ad nauseum’, we create through language. Via our language, our emotions are given names and interpretations made; our stories are constructed and our actions are the fruit of those stores. Thus evolves our Way of Being and how we live our lives…
When we construct our thoughts, references are drawn up from our memory and inherited knowledge to give definition to the words we use. Naturally, we never use words arbitrarily, because if we did, their construction into sentences and stories in our thinking, and in our communication, would be unintelligible… That’s why we begin from early childhood learning to do so most effectively.
I digress, for the manner in which we use language is a conversation in and of itself…
So, when we use the word, Sacrifice, along with it comes an entire trail of knowledge, meanings, metaphors and interpretations. Note that this happens unconsciously, and yet adds significant substance to individual words and phrases. And this ‘substance’ is either negative or positive.
Let us analyse then, what lurks behind this term in particular. What do you immediately associate with Sacrifice? I speak for myself here, in suggesting that it means loss of some kind. Great personal loss!
Sacrificial acts originated thousands of years ago, with religious or ritual offerings of possessions, food, animals, and even human beings. Even though the term is used symbolically today, the original context started way back then. Metaphorically speaking too, some people use the word to allude to a selfless act of kindness, where one might Sacrifice something in the short term, in order to gain something more in the long term. The mere motivation of gain is indicative, not of selflessness, but greed.
I ask you Kari, as I ask our dear readers: What references come to the fore, when you contemplate the term, Sacrifice? I’ll bet they’re not positive references! I’d go as far as to say that Sacrifice, as a word and as a concept, resides in Scarcity.
Just in case you’re wondering, I haven’t forgotten about the word, Compromise, but I’ll get to it in the second part of this conversation. If you’re hearing what I’m hearing though, you’ll observe that just thinking about Compromise gives rise to an entirely different feeling or sense—and it’s a much better feeling. An Abundant feeling!
Back to Sacrifice, though. I guess you might have an inkling of how huge this word is, when applied in the context of our lives. It’s a destructive force for a person, just as a Tsunami is for a coastal city. But it’s more like a gradually rising tide, which impacts us unconsciously—over a long period of time. Words like Sacrifice seep gradually into our language and entrench themselves there, becoming habitual in their influence.
If you think that I’m being melodramatic here, consider for a moment a past relationship, or perhaps a current relationship that didn’t end well, or in which you feel trapped right now… What did you have to give up of yourself; what part of WHO YOU ARE, are you Sacrificing to appease another, or to ‘fit in’ better, or so that you might be better liked?
Kari, I dare say you would identify with this question! You’ve had experience with the concept of Sacrifice… And to varying degrees, we all have—and do! My goodness, what I had to change about myself and of my core values, to satisfy partners in my life!
I think back to when I used to have weekly shiatsu massage and reflexology treatments for migraines, with a woman I once studied design with at college. I had to Sacrifice this much-needed treatment, as my partner erroneously thought I was having some kind of affair with her. In hindsight, perhaps I should have!
I recollect too, that I was forced to curtail the fun, joking side of my very personality, because my partner’s insecurities caused her to interpret this behaviour as flirtatious in the company of other women…
The point I make here is that I had not actually been “forced” to change and to give up these things. I had chosen to Sacrifice aspects of what make me, me—so that my partners were happy that I fit the mould of how they perceived and expected me to be. And as these partners came, so they left, leaving me somewhat less of my being. In most cases, luckily, it’s not irreparable damage, but we should never have arrived at that point in the first place!
Who you are, is who you are, and you should NEVER have to Sacrifice any part of that. Should you choose to change of your own accord, then that is an entirely different matter, which has more to do with Compromise.
I mentioned earlier that Sacrifice lies in Scarcity, because it leads ultimately to regret, animosity and resentment in the end. It always does. Not only as an individual, but in the collective sense as well. Consider how many peoples there are throughout the world who have had to Sacrifice their possessions, their homes, their livelihood and even their lives, because their oppressors deem it so.
As Kari maintains, this is an imbalance in the way of the Universe and cannot last. People grow tired of Sacrifice and eventually rise up against the source of it. And so the world turns…
In the second half of the conversation, as I promised, we’ll look at the idea of Compromise, and its positive manifestations, but in the meantime, Kari, what can you share of your experiences, both personally, and as a Kinesiologist, of this dreaded word, Sacrifice?
Sacrifice… For me, the very word immediately associates with obeying an authority, giving away your own authenticity to maintain a reality that does not exist. Even the authority often isn’t real, but merely a product of the Sacrificer's mind.
We learn to play the role of Sacrifice as small kids. We learn from our relatives, who in turn have learned from their relatives. What you believe is the reality you live in, is your interpretation of reality, based on your genetic references, belief systems and the expectations from family and others during your upbringing. In fact, none of us know the whole reality, only pieces and parts of it. The reality itself is inclusive and neutral, and as long as we are human beings, with thoughts, feelings and belief systems of our own, we often end up in denial of the truth. And there we have illusions, a false perception of reality.
It is in this false perception of the reality we learn to play this game, as a means to get what we want in life. And it is kind of weird, isn’t it Guy, that Sacrifice has turned out also to be a virtue? There is something wrong in a reality where you are measured by how much you Sacrifice in order to reach your goals, no matter what they may be. The level of your Sacrifices measure what you deserve—the harder it is to reach the goals you’ve set, the more you deserve it.
You mentioned relationships. Some years ago I worked at a shelter for abused women, and they all had this confusion about how to act together with their partner. He got violent and abusive, no matter what they did. So they tried more, made themselves even smaller, quieter. They tried to please more, gave themselves away, Sacrificed more. And the thing is, that what was most important for these women, was to be loved. A smile, a moment with the man they fell in love with, a moment where they felt special again…
And it is not only at shelters for abused women we find this! If Sacrifice wasn’t an issue at all, there would not be any need for shelters like this. It is a part of an unbalance in society and even in countries. It is expected that you Sacrifice something to higher authorities, whoever they may be for you, either personally or collectively.
When I got married, I received a very clear message: Now I did not have any life of my own anymore, all my actions, thoughts and feelings had to be for the best of my family. If I was to be a good wife, a good mother, I had to Sacrifice everything that was important to me that didn’t serve the family.
I wasn’t so good at that, so it took a while until I got the message and it took even longer to realise it was all a lie! How is it possible to be a good wife and a good mother, when I had to let go the things in life that gave me energy, happiness and joy?
I made mistakes every day, simply because I was so confused. And to make matters even worse, I adopted other people’s false perception of the truth, the lie of life, and made them mine because they were supported by my own illusions!
Here we are back to our illusions again. Our basic personal illusions are all created before the time we turn 3 years old! We can blame others as much as we want, yet it is our own interpretations from our own experiences that create the pattern of Sacrifice, not your partner, your family, your boss… They simply mirror your imbalance, your false perception of the truth, your fear.
So, what is fear? What about this explanation? False Evidence Appearing Real!
What kind of evidence, you might ask.
Our brain gives us what we ask for, if you believe you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not thin enough, not fat enough, not worthy enough, that is exactly what you get! Not necessarily because people will tell you, but because your brain will remove the awareness of everything that will prove you’re wrong! To be sure you get what you ask for, it will also use the references you have, that prove you’re right. Like comments you heard twenty years ago, that you never forgot, the way people look at you that remind you of a person who once made you feel small and unimportant. And there you have your evidence—all you see, feel and hear is criticism and that hurts too. So, you start to Sacrifice yourself to hopefully one day be good enough, worthy enough.
In the meantime, waiting for that day to occur, you Sacrifice more, doing your best to cover up everything you believe is expected of you.
When have you Sacrificed enough? At which point in your life is it possible for you to decide that it’s enough, when all your brain gives you, is evidence that you’re not worthy without Sacrifice. This is an unconscious habit, the pattern will last your entire life if actions are not taken. And on top of that, most environments are so indoctrinated with the glory of Sacrificing that it becomes even more false!
I always get so sad when I hear people described with such a glory, when the reason for this glory is that he or she never, ever did anything for themselves, they simply supported other people all their life, without a single thought about their own needs.
When we Sacrifice ourselves in order to be good, ‘admirable’ persons, something happens: We confirm to ourselves that our fear is real, we confirm to ourselves that the only thing we can do, is to create more fear by Sacrificing our expertise, our vast potential, our genetic references that every single one of us possess, totally different from every other person on Earth.
As a result of that, we hinder other people’s growth! To become aware of their own fear, their own pain! As long as we’re unaware in our life, we simply live blindly by our genetic references and inherited belief systems!
It is awareness that creates increased consciousness, awareness of your inner potential and resources, who you are and what makes you happy and satisfied.
If Sacrificing part of yourself makes you happy and filled with joy, why don’t you spend a few minutes every time you give something away, to examine if it could be a false perception of your truth? What would happen if you didn’t act this way? And the answer you’d come up with, is that really so, or just a part of your belief system?
This is awareness! You brain will listen and act! When you enclose beliefs and patterns that don’t govern you anymore, you are giving room for new, more advanced solutions.
Now Guy, let’s turn to Compromise. As you say, it has a completely different energy, so now I look forward to read what you, as a Transformational and Ontological Coach, can enlighten us with in terms of that.
As you say, Kari, what we tell ourselves, based on who we are and our experiences in life, is an illusion indeed! We assume and accept that everything we’ve been taught is the only truth, so we don’t (cannot, even) bother searching for possible alternatives.
We learn this word, Sacrifice, with all of its connotations, completely oblivious of the fact that, should we choose to alter our language, even slightly, our entire life would take on new meaning and new understanding.
What we thought was predetermined, cast in stone, can dissolve in an instant. We have the capacity to change what we know into what we want!
So let’s focus on just one word for the moment, and see what possible differences it might offer up. Compromise… If I were to conjure up a mental image representative of the word, I would envisage a typical scale, where something is either added to or subtracted from one side, until both are equal in weight and perfectly balanced. Equilibrium.
Does Sacrifice promote equilibrium? A resounding NO! There is a total imbalance; a winner and a loser. And who is the one Sacrificing? The loser… Except no winner exists in this equation either.
In relationships, it’s not a matter of just one side maintaining the balance, but both. Compromise has to exist between both parties. And because we’re emotional beings, each of us seeing the world differently from one another, maintaining the relationship’s equilibrium requires constant adjustment.
Compromise is not a competition though—it’s not a push-and-pull to see who gets the upper hand. If it were, there’d be winners and losers, and wed be right back to Sacrifice all over again!
I would actually refer to Compromise as the ultimate game of Love, where both parties (whether romantically involved or otherwise) engage in finding the most comfortable and happy resolution for each other.
Are you getting an inkling, dear readers, of what a powerfully generative word Compromise is, and the peaceful change it can bring about in our perception of life? Gone are the associations with loss, forfeit and surrender that are attached to Sacrifice. Now we work with terms such as conciliation, give-and-take and cooperation. Through the subtle substitution of one word for another, we have shifted our language from Scarcity to Abundance.
Sounds so simple, doesn’t it? Well believe me it’s not! And why not, you may well ask. Well, for a couple of reasons: Firstly, because shifting your entire belief system and everything you’ve been led to understand as being ‘the only truth’ throughout your life, takes time, dedication and patience. Secondly, because both parties in the relationship, and in many cases, multiple parties (in the context of a work environment or family unit, for example), have to accept the concept of Compromise.
Just as you pointed out, Kari, a heightening of consciousness through awareness is necessary, and as I’m sure you can see, this awareness begins with a keener observation of your language.
When you consider the things that always tend to get you down, try to convert these feelings into written language whenever you are able. Break those thoughts down into specific emotions—a single word. Consider then, what the antonyms, or opposites, of these words might be. Words residing in Abundance… You’ll soon grasp the importance of substitution in language, and become quite adept at making the conscious switches.
Engage with your partner in this process, because these are the people who you spend the most time with and seek a fulfilling relationship, where Compromise is a key factor in maintaining the love, trust and acceptance of each other. The mere act of working together and sharing your thoughts is in itself, Compromise in progress, because you’re both displaying a willingness to adopt positive change into your relationship.
Once you feel comfortable working with these tools, you might want to introduce a similar process of sharing at the workplace. Openness and willingness to share and learn about others, and what makes them tick, is a wonderful means of breaking down barriers. It surely brings out the best in people.
The dynamic of any relationship will undoubtedly shift, the moment you suggest a willingness to Compromise. And remember, this isn’t about capitulation, which is Sacrifice in disguise. It’s about an uplifting negotiation where love, mutual respect and dignity are the highest priority for all concerned.
Ever since I became more observant of my language, I have found that not only has my interpretation of events become more intuitive, but my relationships have improved immeasurably! I managed to cast aside those terrible burdens, brought about by the idea of Sacrifice.
When you change the language, a new energy is introduced, opening new possibilities and opportunities.
So, Kari, do share with us your wisdom relating to this all-important shift in energy, brought about by alternating these two words, Sacrifice and Compromise.
Compromise is balance, isn’t it, Guy? It’s respect, it’s Authenticity and above all, it’s about listening. Not only with your ears and your head, but also with your heart!
When we listen to other people, there is a constant flow of emotions going on. In order to Compromise we need to acknowledge those feelings, and that creates increased awareness.
It is easy to Compromise when there is a flow of good feelings among those making the compromises; it is far more difficult when there are strong emotions at hand. Think of it, I’m sure we all have experienced some persons in our life who really push some buttons that make it very hard to stay balanced.
I always find that exiting. What are those buttons? What is it that is hiding behind the irritation or anger you feel? Or the resentment? It is a fact that we live in a world of dualities—we can’t escape that! A negative feeling always has a positive feeling behind it, like a positive feeling always has a negative feeling behind it. Every single second of the day, our entire life, there is a constant energy-flow between this, which we are often not aware of at all.
We learn how to behave in a relationship with other people from birth, first from our parents and our family, later from friends, at school, from society, and at last we end up in a personal relationship with someone. It is very interesting to see how family patterns recreate themselves into the next generation.
Many years ago I spent a great deal of time together with a couple always arguing and shouting at each other. They spoke badly about each other behind their backs; it was a very destructive relationship. In my mind I thought that this couple would end up getting divorced, but now, over 30 years later, they are still married, still shouting to each other, still talking behind each other’s back, only now they have grown up children, living in their own relationships, acting the same way!
Take a look at your partner, the one you have chosen to share your life with! He or she is your absolute best teacher, in all ways possible, simply because we always chose the right partner to play out our own inner drama with. There is no one who can make you that angry, and still, you don’t leave, do you? Well, not for a while, at least.
Have you ever thought of why? Could there be a deep, inner need in all of us, to use each other in order to grow? To have someone close who will teach us the art of Compromising?
Even those among us living alone, without a partner and without a family, relate to someone. Neighbours, colleagues, friends, there is always someone there. It may be easier to avoid Compromising when living alone, which may be a part of the reason why they choose to live alone in the first place. Now, I can almost hear the protests here, but think about it; how often have you rejected a potential partner because of small details in your first meeting? Like the way he or she dresses, the way they eat, what they talk about.
We talk about the first impression, how important that is for us. What we’re not aware of is that a huge part of the first impression we get from people comes from our own feelings, our own suppressions and unconscious habits.
So many people live their life almost on autopilot, avoiding everything that can make them grow. They continue to see the world as it once was, never for a moment asking themselves if there may have been any possible changes. We have talked about this before, Guy, how the world changed over the last 50-60 years and how we change with it, very fast!
Avoiding awareness is the same as avoiding changes, to continue living on autopilot. In order to get out of this pattern, we have to start being aware of our own patterns, and then we have to make Compromises with ourselves!
Listen to your words, everything you say, is to yourself… Have you thought about that? You are always listening. When saying your thoughts out loud, you activate other parts of your brain that make sure you get what you ask for faster.
When starting to become aware of your thoughts and feelings, how you put them into words and express yourself, is a start. Then respect it! They are your words; they are your thoughts. If you listen to yourself with respect, even if your words are negative, you open up for what is hidden behind them. Then make Compromises with yourself; find the upper most balance between the negativity you express, and the positive words and actions you may need to get out of your negativity.
A whole new world will emerge when you do that, the awareness of respect and Compromising with yourself will automatically create new patterns that make it far more easy to Compromise in the out side world.
All this has makes me think of our next week’s topic, Guy. I would like to discuss Indifference vs Compassion, which is an important part of how we live our life, how we choose to fill our role in our own life, as well as in others’.