Changing relationship patterns is not easy.
Whether they be codependency, addiction to toxic love/people, or being love avoidant, these patterns are all ingrained in our psyche.
We have been carving out this pathway in our brain throughout our life experiences thus far.
Unresolved issues wreak havoc on our soul, our psyche, our decision-making, and ultimately, every relationship we have—intimate or not.
We so badly want to experience deep, healthy love; we want to fall so deep into love that we get lost in the feeling as we sink deeper and deeper.
We fantasize endlessly about this love and how magical it will feel. We search for this "perfect person" who will bring us this magical well of deep love.
We search and search until we find them (or what we believe to be them), and then we panic because now, it's real-life—not a fantasy.
Because relationships are not magical, they are not meant to fix us or heal us; they are not an endless supply of validation.
The people who choose to be in our lives are not obligated to give us anything more than what they can.
We have watched too many Hallmark movies and romantic comedies, seen too many E-harmony commercials, and read too many love stories that our minds are skewed.
We have an unhealthy vision of what a relationship should be like—what love is.
Love is two completely different souls coming together but still needing to be individuals—not losing themselves in each other.
Love is balance.
Love understands that each of you is a separate person and weren't brought to Earth to make the other happy. However, you were brought to each other to add to each individual's happiness.
I am sure you have heard that happiness doesn't come from anything external a million times over; it is an internal source.
We have always been taught that you need to get married, have babies, make money, buy things, go on vacation, blah blah, and all these magical things will make you happy.
Some of the happiest people have nothing, and the unhappiest people have everything.
Ironic, right? Not surprising, though.
Did you ever want something so badly that it consumes you? And then, when you finally get it, a week, month, or a year later, it has lost its luster. You realize that you are no happier having it than not having it.
Again, love and happiness do not come from other people, "things," or external sources. It comes from within.
It is self-love, self-care, self-admiration, self-soothing, self-healing, and self-confidence.
These patterns are so difficult to change because they are ingrained in us from all the experiences in our lifetime.
We learned we are not good enough, pretty enough, smart enough, and we don't deserve to be loved entirely to the core.
We will continue to chase a love that isn't available or run from a love that is until we learn to love ourselves—become whole.
We have to realize that we are worthy of deep love. And it'll be from someone who isn't there to change our world magically but to just love us for exactly who we are: perfectly imperfect.
Self-love is the key to changing those patterns and gives us the power to receive a healthy love in return.
I used to believe that arguing was a sign of a healthy relationship.
That, somehow, relationships without conflict are simply “fairy tales” and too good to be true.
However, after a three decades long marriage with a lot of conflict, I knew my idea was flawed. I began to learn about emotional intelligence, and I realized that a relationship full of conflict is not healthy.
Other people, including our romantic partners, can say or do anything to us—but it is up to us how we respond or react to it.
We can choose to work out an issue or walk away. Having emotional intelligence gives us the ability to make that choice with clarity. It also allows us to connect deeply with other people by recognizing and respecting their emotions and developing empathy for them.
Understanding the importance of emotional intelligence in your relationship is a crucial aspect of experiencing a successful relationship.
What is Emotional IQ?
Emotional IQ, or emotional intelligence, is the ability to recognize your own emotions as well as the emotions of others. When you possess emotional intelligence, you are able to label your feelings and recognize the difference between different feelings.
For instance, you may be able to recognize that you are frustrated or disappointed instead of angry over a situation.
Developing your emotional IQ will help guide you through your thoughts and behaviors as well. This relates to the concept of “self-awareness,” which involves being mindful of your thoughts and feelings and being able to control whether you react emotionally to a situation or respond logically to it.
Emotional intelligence also ties in directly with empathy, which is the ability to connect with other people’s personal experiences and feelings.
The Importance of Emotional Intelligence
Having emotional intelligence will lead you on a path to a happy and fulfilled life. Being in touch with your emotions means you can deal with negative feelings and embrace the positive ones.
It also affects the overall quality of your life and influences your behavior and your relationships.
This is because developing emotional intelligence awards you with emotional regulation. Having emotional regulation means you can control strong emotions and avoid impulsive actions caused by those feelings.
In other words, it allows you to take the time to process those negative emotions, look at the situation, and make better decisions about how to act.
You can imagine how effective that is in interpersonal relationships—especially romantic relationships.
Adapted from an article by Kamalyn Kaur
Self-esteem: it’s how we evaluate or appraise our own sense of worth. When we are suffering with low self-esteem, we are more likely to:
>> Give up our personal power and the ability to influence others.
>> Feel insignificant to others, constantly seeking affection, attention, and acceptance.
>> Lack a sense of virtue or feel plagued with an inherent nagging sense of not being a good person, morally or ethically.
>> Often feel unloved, unappreciated, and unwanted, or that we aren’t good enough or worthy of love.
>> Be easily dominated by others who we perceive as being more powerful and capable than we are.
If we can relate to any of these feelings, then we’re often more likely to resort to certain behaviors in an effort to numb out the pain and escape to a world that allows us a temporary release of our suffering and problems.
One of the ways in which people escape is by dating or staying in relationships with partners who might not serve them. They could be unhealthy, toxic, controlling, or emotionally distressful, however we stay because we feel a false sense of security, validation, and feeling “wanted,” which gives us an artificial boost of self-esteem.
If we feel that we aren’t good enough, we will stay in relationships that aren’t good enough for us. If we feel we don’t deserve better, then we will settle with what we have, rather than fighting for better. If we feel that we aren’t entitled to be happy, then we will stay with people who don’t make us feel happy.
If we want to attract a healthier relationship, we have to change our relationship with ourselves by improving our self-esteem. Here are six ways to flip our mindset and begin restoring our self-esteem. 1. Create an attitude of gratitude.
We live in a society where it is easier for us to find faults and flaws within ourselves, but when asked what we like about ourselves or what we do well, we are often met with silence. At the end of each day, list three things you did that you feel good about. By focusing on what we have done, rather than what we haven’t done, we are creating positive momentum and training our mind to look for goodness rather than identifying what we think is lacking.
2. Don’t compare yourself to others.
We are all individual—unique and special in our own way. There is no such thing as being 100 percent perfect, but we are all perfect in our own way and that is what we should celebrate. Instead of focusing on what others are doing and putting everyone else on a pedestal, feeling that they are better than us, we have to shift the focus away from them and onto us.
We must be mindful of bringing our attention back to how we are doing and what makes us unique. Consider what skills, qualities, or characteristics you have that make you different from others. How do others describe you when they first meet you? You might not be perfect, but we all have a something that will be appealing, attractive, and fascinating to others!
3. Accept and cherish compliments.
Instead of deflecting, dismissing, or ignoring compliments, accept them with a big thank you and a genuine smile. Think of each compliment as a boxed gift with a big bow on it. If someone gave us a gift, we would consider it rude to ignore the gift, return it, or reject it instead of receiving it. Then why do we so regularly do the same with compliments? We might be worried that the person isn’t being genuine or truthful, but that is not our place to judge. Accept the compliment—without judgement.
4. Surround yourself with goodness.
Spend time with people who make you feel good. If you have a negative influence or person in your life, step back and be aware of how you might be letting them drag you down. When life feels like an uphill climb, we can’t afford to be pulled down by someone else’s negativity.
5. Stay active.
Regular exercise is a great way to get our endorphins flowing. If we feel healthy and are happy with how we look, we will begin to feel better about ourselves as a whole. Start with a short walk every day, and gradually increase the length or branch out and try other forms of exercise that help you feel accomplished.
6. Spread the love.
It amazes me to see how much we can boost our self-esteem just by being kind. Try giving one person a compliment each day or doing one nice thing for someone who needs it. Not only will we feel better about ourselves, but we will begin to feel the positive karma of our efforts.
Low self-esteem can often be the spark plug for self-destruction within relationships. By implementing these six tips into our lives, we can attract healthier connections into our lives and also create a healthier relationship with ourselves—which is the most important relationship of all.
A journey to establish boundaries begins with raw and honest self-awareness. Often what we do is not born of conscious thinking; it is habitual and hard-wired.
Have you ever had a string of moments where you have genuinely questioned the motives of your actions? These are directly related to boundaries and are indicators if they are too fluid, too rigid, or non-existent.
A lack of strong and healthy boundaries has been linked to childhood trauma, although trauma at any age can be a factor. Boundaries are directly linked to self-esteem; the more boundaries we have, the greater our self-esteem is or will become once we start working on them.
In some cases, if we were raised by parents who expected us to be the savior or made us feel that putting ourselves first in any way was a selfish act, we started off on the wrong path to living a life that brings internal happiness. We have possibly become people-pleasers or retreated in fear of not being able to connect in a way that uplifts instead of drains.
What are boundaries?
To sum it up succinctly, boundaries are protection of our mental, emotional, physical, spiritual, and financial well-being. Aspects that we have defined, uniquely to ourselves, that do not allow situations or people to compromise us. By creating and upholding boundaries, we do not develop feelings of resentment, bitterness, or see ourselves as less than we are.
If honesty is something we value and it is defined as a boundary for us, we are less likely to form or maintain unhealthy connections with people who lie or deceive. If we value nurturing our own emotions and being responsible for them, our boundary will be not allowing others to make us responsible for their emotions.
These are a few boundary-building techniques:1. Learn to get comfortable saying no
This is possibly the hardest thing for someone to become comfortable with, especially if they believe that pleasing others is more important than pleasing themselves. Saying no is often followed by a sense of unwarranted guilt.
You need to make yourself fully aware in those moments that prioritizing yourself and your needs is an act of self-love, and someone who respects and loves you will ultimately understand. You do not need to over-explain or even, in some cases, offer an explanation. No can be a full sentence—if you allow it to be.
2. Start small and build
Boundaries are something that take time and patience. You won’t be able to establish them overnight, and it will take practice within the relationships you have currently. Each time you are presented with a new opportunity to honor your boundary and you don’t, don’t berate yourself.
Show yourself compassion and keep trying until it becomes a habit and you begin doing it with little thought. A habit is formed by consistent behavior, and it grows. You don’t start by running a marathon; you start by training a little each day.
3. Foster reciprocal relationships
No boundaries can lead to overcompensation in an effort to maintain relationships. We fear losing someone, and we give and give and give until we are depleted. We have to be clear with ourselves on what we are willing or able to give.
We need to remind ourselves that as important as giving is, it is as important to have the grace to receive. Give and take is key. An imbalance can create enormous tension in our relationships and, ultimately, destroy them.
4. Learn to let go
Do not cling to situations, to jobs, to people. If something is clearly not working out, you need to take what you have learned and move on. That requires being honest with yourself. We often struggle with the picture we have in our minds of what we want versus what they actually are.
Use what you have defined as your boundaries to assess if something or someone is adding to the quality of your life or taking away from it. Letting go is portrayed as a heart-wrenching and an almost impossible task, but it is a simple act when we are grounded in our worth. When we know who we are and what we want, letting go becomes easier—because why would we settle?
5. Lovingly assert yourself and handle the backlash
We often associate assertion with aggression. If we are confronted with people lashing out, particularly to our boundary, we feel we must retaliate. We are known a certain way and a backlash is to be expected. We must prepare for this; it’s inevitable.
The best way to handle it is to remain cool, calm, and collected. Lovingly express your feelings, and, if someone persists with negativity, walk away.
Keep in mind that people can only meet us as deeply as they have met themselves. It’s often not us and our boundary that is the problem. They may be triggered into seeing something unflattering within themselves.
Our focus needs to be on ourselves and living a life of authenticity which will ripple through our relationships in healthy and positive ways.
adapted from an article by Charlotte Priest
Romantic love is fickle.
Like a flame, it can easily go out if we don’t know how to tend it. A good fire burns long and slow, so how do we tend to our romantic life in a way to create such longevity? Or is a relationship that can stand the test of time just a thing of the past now?
Romantic love is just one expression of a deeper form of love that we are meant to experience. Some people find this other kind of love in prayer, in spirituality, or in nature. The essence of this kind of love is compassion. It’s a kind of love that sees the oneness in all things. That inspires us to move from a “me and mine” point of view, to one of togetherness and service.
Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy being in love. It’s one of the most amazing feelings, ever. Falling in love has never been a challenge for me, but maintaining a loving relationship over time has proven more difficult.
Once the hormones have settled down, and you’re beginning to see your partner for the human that they really are…now what?
Is it the beginning of the end or is it the start of a deeper, more compassionate love?
Too often we get caught up in our own ego trip about the other person. If they were just a little more this, or a little less that, then we could love them. Online dating promotes this “tick the boxes” kind of mentality, with hundreds of more eligible bachelors/bachelorettes at the click of a finger.
On the other hand, a lack of compassion for ourselves can give us years of unnecessary suffering.
So how do we find authentic compassion, for ourselves and for our partner?
Compassion requires three things: loving acceptance, an ability to communicate from the heart, and a willingness to let go of the drama.
What so many of us are searching for in a romantic relationship is to be truly seen, loved, and accepted.
But how many of us go searching for that when we can’t give ourselves the same thing?
Not accepting ourselves can take many forms: it might be a constant dissatisfaction with our physical appearance, an addiction to eating or exercise, or a tendency to push away undesirable emotions like depression or anxiety. To truly accept ourselves, we have to be willing to bravely feel our feelings, not become a slave to our habit of running away from them.
When we make the choice to open up a little more to our present moment experience, we automatically become more open and available to others.
Being mindful allows you to naturally become more intuitive! This benefits a romantic relationship immensely because when we start seeing from the heart, things come up and get resolved more quickly than if we rely on our logical brain alone.
An ability to communicate is essential to a long-term relationship. If we accept ourselves, we will be less afraid to have those difficult conversations that come up in relationship. Whether you want to improve your sex life or are about to join finances to buy a house together, relationships provide ample opportunities to get into the nitty-gritty details of our lives.
If we can lean into those conversations a little more, trusting that we are essentially safe and know how to take care of ourselves, we open to the possibility of caring for another’s point of view as well.
But, let’s be honest, sometimes your partner makes you want to rip your hair out and go running for the hills!
It’s precisely because romantic relationships bring up these intense emotions, that they are the perfect breeding ground for a practice of compassion.
In fact, love has created the form of a monogamous relationship so that we learn how to generate compassion toward another person. The relationship is not love’s end goal, however. By practicing compassion to just two people—ourselves and our partner—we can learn how to love anyone, even our enemies.
Compassion is too often the missing element in romantic relationships. The element that allows us to go deeper, to open up more, to see and be seen, and to generate a humorous relationship to our human foibles.
It’s time to open the doorway of possibility and explore a more compassionate love!
adapted from an article by Xiren Wang
Knowing your partner’s love language is a good starting point but understanding the cultures and subcultures in which they were raised is critical to a happy relationship.
Our understanding of love has been conditioned by our cultures and subcultures from the moment we first learned what love could be. The same words could have different meanings for different people. The same behaviors could show attachment or be just a friendly gesture.
When someone asks you out, when is it a date, and when is it just casual? What may seem significant to you – meeting your new partner’s parents- may not be substantial at all to your partner or his parents. We tend to attach significance to specific things while brushing aside behaviors that are also quite specific. All of this second-guessing could lead to a lot of misunderstandings.
I have found it frustrating at times to date in Salt Lake City. There is a predominant religion here, and as soon as I reveal my affiliation with said religion, there is an automatic assumption about me that is mainly false. People in Utah have formed an opinion about those inside the religion and those outside of the religion. The vast majority pigeon-hole you into one of those categories. I find that to be tragic; the opportunity to get to know someone as an individual is buried beneath bias. Whomever you chose to date, it is a whole new world and a chance to learn a different “language” of romance.
I am an avid reader and love Jane Austen. The problem with reading these novels of romance is that I set myself up for unrealistic expectations of love. If she had written about dating as a more mature woman in Utah, I might have been prepared for what awaited me when I found myself suddenly single.
One thing to keep in mind when dating is that subtlety doesn’t cut it. Being obvious doesn’t suck when it comes to love. You see, your partner cannot read your mind. You may speak the same language, have a similar religious viewpoint, be very compatible, and have that spark that makes everything seem rosy – for a while. However, embedded within the relationship are meanings, intentions, moods, and emotions that you each assign your own set of values to. You will each interpret different meanings from common behaviors and words. Why? Because you each learned how to love from different people, different cultures, from different spaces, with different experiences and frames of reference. There is a lot of truth to the line in the song Daughters by John Mayer – “Father’s be good to your daughters, daughters will love like you do….Mother’s be good to your daughter’s too.”
With online dating taking away the necessity to be geographically close, our differences are not immediately noticed. Where you come from seems to be irrelevant. Except, our behaviors and beliefs are still very much encoded by where we are from and where we are domesticated. We can’t improve as a human being if we can’t put our fingers on the origins of the makeup of our love.
I’m a fan of Don Miguel Ruiz, and he defines domestication as a system of control, operating on (and thus teaching those who are a part of it) conditional love:
“Starting when we are very young, we are presented with either a reward or a punishment for adopting the beliefs and behaviors of what others find acceptable. When we adopt these behaviors and beliefs, as a result of either reward or punishment, we can say we have been domesticated.”
Don’t fret; we are not cats and dogs. Domestication happens to all of us, to various degrees. If we are raised differently, we have been conditioned to love differently. We know a country can differentiate us, but so can experience, a book, a movie, a former lover, a memory, a need, and even an attitude.
Because domestication steeps within us, normalized beliefs and behaviors through conditional love, become what we know best, and they become our default. We don’t enter a relationship with a clean slate. Not even if it’s our very first relationship. We enter into a relationship with normalized beliefs of what love is, in all their limiting and controlling ways, before we ever accumulate any baggage. Is it any wonder that so many relationships fail?
We will each arrive at our “domestication” crossroads in our own time. Here are some thoughts to guide you in figuring things out:
It has become clear that if we date only in our “zip-code,” we find a lot of comfort and alignment as we cultivate something homegrown. The problem is, people are dating outside their ‘zip-codes’ more often than not. Unless you take the time to understand the culture and subculture of where your partner learned to love, the outcome could easily be painful and disastrous.
There is a gap between understanding our domestication of love, and loving with such discernment, because the way we are normalized conditions us to survive within just that particular geographic location.
But this isn’t irreversible. We are capable of unlearning, just as we are of learning. As long as we are open to growth, this cycle never ends.
It is interesting that in this era, we care deeply about where we buy what we buy. Is it ethically sourced? Where is it made? Where does our food come from? What about our clothes? Our chocolate? Our soap? Yet we don’t seem ever to question: where did we learn how to love? Because surely, a love that’s made in sweatshops doesn’t feel the same as an artisanal love. Love expressed in North Korea doesn’t look the same as love expressed in North Dakota.
Understanding where we come from helps us build a more solid identity. The same goes for love. Where and how we learned to love, along with its expressions, shape our relationships, And it’s often the unsaid, assumed feelings and meanings that derail the relationship.
Until we map out where we learned what we learned about love, we will always be swimming in somewhat of a confused sea. Until we figure out the origins of our love, we continue to carry the consensus of what love is, according to our immediate physical environment, and forget to find out where our partner learned to love.
This is a formula that works regardless of who this person is – which includes friends, family, ANY one at all.
• Stop holding this person responsible for your happiness, or sense of security. As an adult that is YOUR job.
• Let go of your focus on them and examine yourself. Get very clear on your values and what you require in your Life.
• Heal within yourself the traumas you have that cause you to attach and make excuses for staying in toxic relationships. Find a good therapist who specializes in this area.
• If this person has an indecent character, stop wanting or expecting any change from them. Instill a No Contact or Modified Contact policy in regard to them. Do what you need to legally, to heal and move on.
• If this person has a decent character, STOP arguing with them and tell them lovingly and truthfully what you require from them to continue a relationship with them.
• If they don’t wish to meet these needs, bless them and lovingly release them so that you both can be free to live a life that is aligned with your separate truths.
• If they do agree to step up and incorporate the values you have, see if their actions match the words – words alone are cheap.
• If they are trying to become your values, be honest. Is this something that they are enjoying and benefiting from? Are they doing this only because of their neediness and fear of losing you, but really resent having to be different?
And finally, ALWAYS, ALWAYS be true to yourself no matter what anyone else is or isn’t doing.
When you are authentic, you can say ‘No’ to who and what is not working for you. You are empowered to connect with and co-generate with the people and things who share your values.
By calmly and clearly using the formula above, you have the confidence and self-awareness to leave a relationship if things become toxic.
“I want a woman who is emotionally intelligent. A woman who is proactive in finding out what I like and tries to make it happen. A woman who understands my journey and can cater to its uncertainty without resentment. A woman whose masculine energy isn’t competitive or overbearing. A woman who doesn’t feel entitled to my time but appreciates it. A woman who is self-aware and takes accountability. A woman who is sexually expressive and experimental. A woman who is kind, considerate, and a respectful individual…”
I’ve heard all of this in various forms over the last months.
And yet, men still come to me complaining about…
>> Dramatic women
>> Needy women
>> Complaining women
>> Masculine women
>> Emotional women
We all crave to be loved. We are relational beings, and relationships come naturally to us.
If you’ve been attracting these kinds of women in your life, it’s time to work on yourself.
Your woman is right there. She is waiting for you to step into the arena of co-created love. You get to become a wholehearted man.
Here are three ways to become a wholehearted man:
1. Start tuning into your feelings.
Understand that your feelings are valid. You feel just as much as us women do; allow yourself to access your inner truths. Your feelings are you. By tuning into your feelings and sharing them with us women, it allows us to become closer to you—to have compassion, to build a more intimate relationship with you. We want to hear what is going on for you, so we know how to support you.
Really listen. Women go weak in the knees for a man who is a listener, why? It shows us you care. It shows that we matter and that you aren’t selfish or egocentric. Being a great listener allows us to know that our opinion is heard, and it also means you have a presence. Presence is the first quality that women seek in a man.
3. Have empathy.
Empathy is the ability to connect with people at their level of being. It means you understand others and you don’t hold yourself above anyone. This makes you the greatest student—always humble, always learning, always ready to be there. Empathy comes from the heart.
Your woman is waiting for you with an open heart, love radiating through her entire being, and her smile welcoming you into her life.
Feel, listen, and be there.
adapted from an article by Galina Singer
After over three decades of being married, I realized only recently that I had based my relationship on completely unrealistic expectations about love. I believed that love is something that we get from other people, special people with specific qualities, who fall in love with us and make us feel good.
Many of us expend much effort on finding that perfect partner, as we focus on the qualities we’d like them to have, so that they can become perfect deliverers of our bliss.
Meanwhile, few of us take time for self-study which would provide a clue as to what could actually make us happy, and in what capacity this other person could help us get there.
We chase love as if it will come from the outside, delivered by the person who fits our long list of requirements. These requirements are a bizarre composite of our unconscious urges, childhood dreams, advertising images, and all sorts of other conditioned demands that become completely irrelevant a few years later—when the reality of daily life sinks in. Many of us then spend years in wonder and self-blame, trying to understand what compelled us to choose that person as our life-long partner in the first place.
What we are all seeking is the euphoria of being in love, that feeling of fearlessness, security, invincibility, and hope. We come to associate these feelings with the person with whom we are in relationship, anointing them responsible for the way we feel.
What many of us do not realize is that when we fall in love, no one actually gives us anything. This intoxicating and blissful feeling we crave is actually our own energy rising as a result of our own internal psycho-emotional process. The other person merely acts as a catalyst of this process, temporarily allowing us access to the inherent sense of fullness and abundance within us, which is actually our natural state: capable, lovable, and worthy.
Since we are so mistakenly tethered to the behavior of the other for our emotional well-being and self-appraisal, we think that when they turn their interest elsewhere that it means that something is now wrong with us and we proceed to wilt from neglect. What causes us to hurt so much when our partner withdraws their attention is simply our misguided suspicion that we are no longer worthy. What we need to understand is that behavior of the other is a reflection of their own internal process, one of continuous change and evolution. Because we take it personally, it returns us to a state of lack and feeling as if we are not enough, reactivating our own suspicions of unworthiness and inadequacy.
Not only do we expect love to be delivered to us by another, we want it to be delivered in a very specific way, in our preferred love language. We are only really satisfied if love is offered in a particular setting, with a particular word combination, and an accompanying theme song. Any detail that does not fit our conjured teenage-worthy dreams and the whole episode feels disappointing. That causes great frustration and inexplicable longing that never seems to be quenched.
As long as we rely on others for that feeling of love and abundance, it is unsustainable. We become playthings of fate, because human beings are notoriously unpredictable and therefore unreliable: they fall in and out of love, they change, they lie, they age, they die.
We expect “forever” from a promise given years ago, when both of us were completely different people. We associate stability with a signed piece of paper, completely ignoring reality where everything is in a constant state of flux and nothing ever stays the same.
The only way to sustain this feeling of abundant, invigorating energy that we call love is to know how to access it without relying on anyone or anything from outside of ourselves. For that, we need to know who we are well enough to know what actually brings us joy, what sparks our curiosity, and wakes up our passion—and then commit to making space for that in our lives.
From what I observe in my work, very few of us actually know who we are underneath our conditioned responses. Most of us go through life on autopilot, at the whim of our unconscious urges and culturally prescribed expectations. Yet, we expect the other to be the deliverer of that unknown ingredient—the magic—becoming not only upset but outright aggressive when they “fail.”
The actual purpose of relationships is to learn about who we are. It is not to make us happy or feel good. It is to stimulate growth, evolution, change, and to inspire each other to become the best versions of ourselves.
And growth rarely occurs without a degree of discomfort. Growth is possible when we learn to communicate honestly and nonviolently, because we have created safe space in our partnership where we can speak our truth. We feel safe to self-express when we know that our partner will not blame us or hold us responsible for their own emotional reactions to our words. In such relationships, the attraction to the other person is not based on them making us feel good, or fulfilling our needs, or on an ulterior agenda—but on mental synergy, on emotional connection, gratitude, compassion, and inspiration. That is the definition of conscious relationship.
Of course, this goes against everything we have been taught about relationships. We measure success by longevity. We want stability, safety, predictability. For that, we are prepared to stay in relationships that block our personal progress way past their expiration date and readily tolerate toxicity. We become upset and blame for our discomfort when people, on whose stability we rely, change and evolve beyond the version of them we fell in love with many years before. Meanwhile, when people do not change over time, their lives become tragic, as they become stagnant, somnolent, and usually lose their inner fire.
The ultimate challenge in a relationship is to learn to form unions with people who support our development and to release those who handicap our growth.
For that to be possible, we need to learn that everything we need to fulfill our needs exists within us. And instead of holding on to our partners as need fulfillers and parent substitutes, we should strive to be in a partnership of two self-responsible adults who remain together because they want to, not because of fear or need.
Once we get to that level of self-confidence and completeness, our sense of value will no longer fluctuate with the changes in people or circumstances in our lives. No other person can save us, heal our inner child, or make us so happy that they will take away our pain. That is our own job.
We are the gatekeepers to our inner well-being. We own the power to remove obstacles to love, which is our own natural state of being. We are the only owner and key holder of our love supply and freedom.
Self-love is the secret ingredient to sustained sense of fulfillment and the cornerstone of all the other relationships in our lives.