Relentless. This word has been in my mind over the last few weeks. I’ve experienced relentless behavior by others, remembered it within my father, and recognized it in myself.
There are pros and cons to being relentless.
Merriam-Webster defines relentless as: “showing or promising no abatement of severity, intensity, strength, or pace”.
Ouch. That sounds exhaustingly painful.
I used to be incredibly relentless about the most idiotic things. Putting dishes in the dishwasher the correct way, installing toilet paper, and hanging clothing as just a few idiotic examples. I’ve found over the last few weeks a few of my old habits are rising up again. I find myself saying, “Put your dishes in the dishwasher” and then going back and showing how to put them in the right way rather than willy-nilly.
I can’t help it. I was taught this way of being by my father, a former Marine. You never just did the dishes. You did the dishes. You finished the job. Top to bottom and nothing left behind – the domesticated version of the Marine motto, “leave no man behind”.
I’ve also come to realize this relentless behavior is a sign of needing control. My father was a control freak. I’m definitely trying to maintain some semblance of control for fear that my house turns into complete mayhem. (This is the thing about control. You grab onto it when you’re stuck in fear. A blog for another time.) I’m sure the likelihood of this happening is slim but I figure if I keep order than it won’t get out of hand.
I’m also noticing relentless behavior in the conversations I’ve had with some of the younger people in my life. Topics are often discussed ad nauseam. Requests are made repeatedly even though they’ve been denied. Only until I’ve given the answer for the third time, along with an incredibly annoying, “And I’m not going to discuss it again,” does the discussion stop.
I’ve found myself frustrated by these relentless discussions yet at the same time there’s value in it. They aren’t taking “no” for an answer. They’re looking for possibilities. They’re arguing their point of view. These are all good things and this behavior could serve them well in life.
But to all of this – there’s a balance. Listening is more valuable than belaboring your point. There’s value in a task being accomplished regardless of how it’s accomplished. There’s learning in watching others behaviors. There’s learning in leading by example. There’s value in letting go of control and appreciating the experiences & bliss that can arise when you have an open palm.
Merriam-Webster’s antonym for relentless – “softening or yielding”. I love the sound of softening. Letting go. Not holding so tightly. Allowing room for learning, mistakes, and originality. Allowing room to breathe.
Is there a place in your life where you are pushing? Being relentless? Can you soften your approach and allow room for new ideas, openness, or listening? Can you find the balance this week between both? Can you soften?