You may be thinking what has counselling and writing a contract got in common? Well, we often have ‘contracts’ with people which are unwritten contracts.
Unlike work, where you agree to do X amount of hours and in return, you will be paid X, which of course could be a verbal or written contract.
Our personal contracts happen all the time and most of the time we do not realise we are in a contract until it feels like ‘the norm’.
So let’s dive in a bit deeper about how this contract thing works….
Imagine you have a friend who you regularly go to concerts with and you are the one that always drives. Initially you may have offered because they hadn’t driven to the o2 before and so you were going to show them how easy it is. Or, you prefer to go by car even though your friend was happy to go by train.
As each concert happens, you offer to drive and soon in turn, it becomes ‘the norm’. It may also appear to become ‘the norm’ that they don’t offer to pay towards petrol or parking. The problem being, because ‘this is how it always is’, changing it may feel a bit tricky – and here lies your contract.
Let me give you another example; many, many years ago, a female friend and I decided as a New Year’s Resolution to do something very different (for us) and learn ballroom dancing – do not ask me why – it seemed like a good idea at the time!
So we arrived and one of us took the ‘male role’ and the other the femaie. (Now please do not get any bees in your bonnet about it being sexist etc. can I ask you just to go with my example).
The only problem with this, was that the person learning the ‘male moves’ was never going to learn how to be do the female moves. After a few weeks we realised how our learning was set for failure (and it wasn’t really our thing) so we stopped.
Again, if we only leant one set of moves, that would have become our contract that one of us would have had to take on the ‘male role’ if we were to go to dances for example – that was our contract.
This happens all the time, our contracts can be with parents, siblings, friends, partners and colleagues and some of these contracts are not healthy.
So all I ask, is you do a birds eye view of the people above that you interact with and ask yourself / notice what contracts you have and whether they are positive or detrimental contracts to you.
Changing a contract can take time and if the other person likes how the contract used to be, they may well struggle to change the contract or indeed try to ambush any new contracts. Because let’s be honest, the new contract may not feel as beneficial to them as the previous one was.
You may not have to completely tear up the contract, it may just be a few tweaks here and there.
If you are questioning yourself whether you have any contracts, I would feel confident in saying that you do – however, another way to notice a contract is noticing when you are with your sibling or partner for example, notice how your feelings change when they or you do something.
Notice if you start to feel irritated or, start thinking to yourself, ‘ugh it’s always me’! – Yep that’s a sure sign of a contract.
You don’t have to be a solicitor to write up a new contract, but if you’d like some help to start with – I am a phone call away.