Conscious Social Contracts

We participate in social contracts all the time based on our internal values, beliefs and mindsets. 

A conscious social contract is based on respect, a generative shared purpose and consent. In this way of relating adults have autonomy and choice (this honors independence and welcomes interdependence). There is open discussion about requests, offers and agreements that are created through collaboration. This way of relating is driven by honoring limits, trust and faith.  Responsibility and accountability are owned individually and shared. Conflict is a welcome part of shaping the path forward.

This could look like, “I have an offer…here are the terms” “Are you interested?” “No, thank you.” “Yes, let’s go for it.” “What is our common purpose and interest?”  “This doesn’t work, can we renegotiate?”  

An unconscious social contract is based on entitlement, unilateral purpose and obligation. 

In this way of relating, adults do not have conscious free will. This leads to on-going dependence, guilt, shame, boundary invasion, control, drama triangle – victim/rescuer/villain, narcissism/codependency, parent to child or child to parent ways of relating among adults etc. In this fear and control based approach, decision making is often one way. Responsibility and accountability is owned by one party and not shared, with power struggles as key reinforcers. These unconscious contracts are rarely discussed until crisis occurs. 

This could look like:  “I told them…I’m right”  “I have to push them.” “I know their answer.” “I will reshape myself to be accepted here.” “I can’t stand this and I am obligated to it.” “I’m only worthy if…” “I will fix this.” 

This way of relating is front and center to the spiritual dilemma: There is no Higher Power. There are only the gods (and goddesses) we make of others or the one we become. 

1. What is an unconscious social contract you find yourself in? 
2. What is a conscious social contract you have created recently? 


Sources for those interested: (Speech Acts, John Searle, adapted by Julio Olalla), Transactional Analysis by Dr. Eric Berne, Karpman Drama Triangle, Marshall Burtcher, 12 Steps Handbook.