No, I’m not talking about take bottle, add milk then voila! Your perfect relationship though that would be rather nice!
This is an imaginary bottle though works best when you actually draw and create one for yourself. I have used this idea with children and adults alike in a range of contexts as it is a fantastic tool to help you get clear on what the key ingredients are for a value or goal you hold in any relationship or area of your life.
The idea came from something my mum encouraged me to do as a child. Like many other mums, she had to put up with the eternal on/off again friendship dramas every time I came home from school. After listening to yet another rant about my friend Lorna and how we had fallen out yet again, she calmly went to the cupboard and pulled out a tomato ketchup bottle.
I was totally nonplussed as to where this was going as I hadn’t spotted her making chips for tea! She told me to look at the ingredients on the bottle which I duly did.
‘What do you notice about the order of the ingredients?’ She asked. In a nutshell, she was pointing out that every ingredients label lists the items in descending order of the amount the item contains.
She then instructed me to draw a bottle and to consider Lorna and what her ingredients were starting with the largest qualities that made her the person I felt she was, down to the smallest, including all positives and negatives. As was her intent, along with having great fun in the process, the activity forced me to look at my friend as a whole and not just focus on her negative points. This made it easier for me to appreciate not only our differences but what made me want to actually keep her as a friend.
This is now an exercise I often use with clients to help them get clear about any limiting beliefs they are holding about either themselves or others having to be perfect and to appreciate that it is our flaws as much as our qualities that makes us unique.
How to create the bottle:
Consider the person or situation you are wanting to create the ingredients bottle for. This can be yourself, your partner, work colleague, boss, friend or even job or hobby.
Now get clear about what, exactly, are the positive ingredients that represent your ideal for that situation or person.
Now consider the ingredients that represent the opposite, as in the less positive aspects.
Consider where this information for the ‘ideal’ and ‘not ideal’ comes from. What limiting beliefs are coming up?
Now create your bottle by drawing appropriate amounts of each ingredient as you see them at the moment. How much space do you feel each ingredient needs to take up? On what are you basing your decision?
Now consider which ones you want more of or less of. What has to happen for the balance of the ingredients to change?
Create a goal and action plan to help you create more or less of the ingredients and keep track of the situations/experiences that causes them to change over the period of one month.
Now create another bottle. What has changed?
The point my mother was making in her original activity was to help me recognise that we all have different ingredients, both positive and negative and it is how they are put together that matters most.
Nothing is perfect, what you leave out of one of the ingredients, you can add to another. The point is to create a balance that is right for you and to open yourself up to what those ingredients actually do for you. As I said in ‘Start with You’, nobody and nothing is perfect and we are all works in progress. What is right for you may not be right for someone else and their bottle may look completely different. And that’s ok.
When looking at your relationships and filling out their ingredients bottle, this reminds us of the bigger picture and allows us the choice, as I did as a child, to celebrate more of the positives rather than trying to remove the negatives as to do so would upset the balance of the whole.
Equally, it gives us insight as to what ingredients we may need to tweak inside ourselves and create more or less of in order to feel happy with our choices and what to do about it if we don’t.
So go on, get creative! Please do email me and let me know how you are getting on!