It’s hard to imagine anything that affects us and influences us more than relationships.
LIFE IS ALL ABOUT RELATIONSHIPS
Whether it is with things, people, ourselves or with the universe. Every day we negotiate the world from these relationships. Relationships vary in their nature, from those with our loved ones—spouse/lover, families, friends, pets—to our homes, our cars, our careers, and, most importantly, to ourselves. We are all learning in one way or another to deal with these different forms of relationships.
REACHING OUR FULL POTENTIAL
Sometimes our "coping" with these different connections doesn’t go as smoothly as we would like. There is much to learn from our discomforts with these different kinds of ties. By using these discomforts as a barometer for what we need to look at within ourselves, we have a tool to help us move closer to our wholeness; wholeness—reaching our full potential—is our birthright.
DEALING WITH HARDER RELATIONSHIPS
For now, I would like to focus on our relationships with people. In our dealings with various people, we find unique opportunities to discover ourselves, to look at and release those issues that are sometimes difficult to reach alone. Every day we have opportunities to heal with people that we find challenging to be around. (Healing in this case can look like feeling at ease in a situation that could have been difficult in the past.) These opportunities include relationships with spouses, lovers, family, friends, bosses, and co-workers.
EVERY RELATIONSHIP IS AN OPPORTUNITY TO GROW
Most of us are faced daily with other people and, mostly, we all want to feel close to others. In our attempts to do this we have opportunities to grow, change, be more intimate and find more peace inside of ourselves. In my experience, when we say we don’t want this closeness, we are usually blocking some undefined feeling. Some of us block so strongly that we don’t know how to recognize when we feel a discomfort with others. This block can feel very natural to us, but it ultimately can keep us from our innate potential for love and closeness.
RELATIONSHIPS TAKE WORK
As a psychotherapist and energy healer working within a psycho-spiritual framework, I see many people from traditional and non-traditional religious backgrounds who think they can wish away, pray away or think away their difficulties in relationships and all will be fine. We are not taught in our schools, religious institutions and rarely in our homes, how to see, understand and process what is going on for us in our relationships. In our society, we are very seldom taught or encouraged to be introspective or to examine ourselves deeply. Some of us grew up in the kind of dysfunctional family that didn’t allow us the personal strength to tolerate, while quietly sinking into our selves in order to see and feel what was happening in the moment. Because of this, I see people ignoring a problem or vacillating among making it all the others people’s fault, making it their fault entirely or faulting circumstances. Once caught in these narrow vacillations, some of us don’t know how to open up to these difficulties, giving us the opportunity for internal growth. This internal growth creates external change and provides us a larger picture of reality.
HOW DO WE TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR OUR PART IN RELATIONSHIPS AND NOT MOVE INTO SELF-BLAME?
How can we "heal" these issues? There are many wonderful self-help books that can get us to start thinking and questioning ourselves. I have noticed many people come to my office having read these books who have received considerable help. I’ve also seen that, for all the help we receive from these books, we come to a point where we need another person’s viewpoint to help show exactly where we are blocked. At this time, a skilled psychotherapist can be our ally in guiding us through our wounds toward wholeness, by processing the feelings, and finding the thread back to our childhood and coming to resolutions. This is almost impossible to do all by ourselves, for we are all are blind to our own blocks.
TAKE A MOMENT
All that said, I would like to give you some things to think about. Even if you’ve heard it all before, a new look could be helpful. Allow yourself to come from "beginner’s mind." Take a moment to read the following slowly:
Think of a time recently when you felt upset by something someone said to you. This could be anybody in your life. Notice what your feeling is. Give it a name (i.e. mad, sad, glad, scared, hurt, shame). Really let yourself notice the feeling and be with it. (However, I’m not suggesting that you act this feeling out or do any destructive behavior from this feeling!)
Just breath into the feeling. Notice where this feeling is in your body. Does it have a shape or color? See how long you can tolerate the feeling. If it starts to overwhelm you, stop. Breath and feel your feet on the ground. Remind yourself that you are safe right now. When you feel calm, go back inside.
As you continue, notice if this is a familiar feeling from the past. Close you eyes and breath deeply. Think-feel-sense, moving backwards in your life, going as far back in the past as you possibly can. Let yourself drift back and see what visions, memories or past feelings come up for you. Just be patient. Just let whatever comes up be seen and felt. (All of us have had childhood experiences that were less than perfect. Even the most well-intentioned caregiver couldn’t be there to nurture every moment. Parents, teachers and leaders are also working within their own wound structures.) Can you remember something that happened in your childhood that had a similar feeling to this incident?
Do you have a felt sense of image of anything? How old are you? What are you wearing? What happens? Who is there? Take a moment … breathe … remember this is the past and you are here simply recalling it. Use these questions to take you wherever you need to go. You can write the answers down or just ponder them. When you feel complete, take a deep breath. Slowly, bring yourself fully back into the here and now. Feel your feet touching the floor. Take another deep breath and try to fill up your lungs completely. Let yourself look around the room.
During this week start to become aware when people upset you and notice what happens and what you feel. You can use this process to help you trace where the difficulties originated. After you trace these discomforts and connect them to your past, the next step is to experience your feelings, grieve the loss of whatever part of your child self that wasn’t seen, heard, loved, respected, etc.
LET'S REMEMBER THAT WE ALL GROUP IN FAMILIES
Each with various levels and kinds of issues. Your parents could only teach you what they knew about life and love—and they had their own limits and misunderstandings about themselves and how the world works. Part of our human task is to grow into the most evolved people we can be. This includes resolving as many of our childhood issues as possible, leaving us less encumbered and better able to act, not from our wounding, but from our wholeness. This is who we really are. I see this as a part of our spiritual quest. As we "heal" our deeper wounding we become the people that we came into this life to be, fully human and allowing our true nature to be ever present.
BE PATIENT WITH YOURSELF
Above all, be patient with yourself. For some it may take a while even to dare to feel anything. As you do let yourself connect and feel, layer after layer of emotion will come up for exploration, understanding, grieving and healing. Sometimes it may feel as though you are going through similar issues repeatedly. If you are really doing your deep work, you are never stuck going around in circles. Seen from outside, your life path is really an ascending spiral. You see, the reality is that you are looking ever deeper into your being.
Posted: 4/3/2009 4:14:34 PM
This article opened up my eyes to how to actually figure out what the blocks were that were holding me back. A lot of articles will speak about the blocks and why they hold you back but this article gave a great exercise to use to identify them.
Posted: 5/30/2011 5:04:30 PM
Full of compassion and understanding. It is our relationship with others which truly define us.
Looking within we can repair the without. Best thing I''ve read in a long time. Thank you
Posted: 10/21/2011 5:18:16 AM
I love this article, thank you for sharing these insights and a manual in how we can create better relationships.
It is only the first step that seems to be hard. Once we are in the process we will find that we become more and more aware of our blocks. Love, Sandy