Your relationship is a miracle, or a miracle waiting to happen.
In a Nutshell
Here’s the premise. I’ll break it down twitter-style, and then provide the meat.
- You were born, happy, trusting, fully connected to the world. #love
- You were hungry and didn’t get fed right away. #fear
- You cried and got served and started to think of yourself as the center of everything. #i
- Other damage occurred and you reinforced your separateness. #defense
- You attracted the perfect partner who would force you to overcome your brokenness. #helpmate
- Unfortunately, that included reactivating old wounds. #sink-or-swim
- Even if you were lucky, there’s work to do. #settle-or-thrive
The Full Monte
Childhood – The Silent Killer
We’re born into this world happy, trusting, connected to the “all.” We love and are loved. Then things happen, traumatic, primal things, typically in the first four years of our lives, which leave us scared, scarred, defensive, angry, sad and humiliated.
Because of early developments when you didn’t know any better, you started to think of yourself as the center of everything. For example, if your pet died or your parents divorced, at least a part of you believed it was because of you.
Our solution is automatic. We dislike ourselves and unconsciously project that dislike to others, often those dearest to us. We develop defenses. The healthy ego devolves into what we call the eigo, with a compulsive, almost pathological self-centeredness. This includes our identity – how we define ourselves. Any threat to our identity occurs as a threat to our very being. Our survival seems to depend on protecting ourselves.
We do this unconsciously. We are compelled to be right and win for the cheap emotional lift it provides us, but more importantly, we are overly afraid to allow ourselves to be vulnerable, wrong or to lose. We justify our behavior, no matter how bad. We’ll do for others, as long as we think we’ll get something out of it. And worst of all, we’ll withhold love and forgiveness from those around us (and ourselves!), the withholding of which occurs like a cancer to our soul that slowly takes us over. The result is fear, isolation, loneliness, anger, separatation, distrust and resentment. We develop narratives about how we’re the victim, it wasn’t our fault, no one understands us, and the more we repeat these stories to ourselves, the more we believe them.
Ultimately this leaves us no condition for meaningful relationships.
This is the course that most of us take, because it’s the automatic social and psychological response to the world into which we were born.
Fortunately, there is a way out.
In fact, the way in is the way out. Because you have to actually confront your brokenness, pettiness, selfishness, defensiveness and so on, if you want to transform it.
Consciousness – the Penicillin of the Soul
The solution starts with a commitment (you can declare it right now!) to raise your level of consciousness. Once you have that commitment, there are actions to take. Some are easy. For example, often just one conscious breath can diffuse a tense situation. For others, you may be best served by having a teacher, guide, support system. Actions include getting out of the “Right/Wrong” game and actively looking to appreciate and validate others; identifying all the upsets you’re carrying around and making a list of the people you need to forgive or request forgiveness from, and then doing it; practicing gratitude; being unselfish; expressing your love; and so on.
The Power of Conscious Relationships
So, what does all this have to do with relationships?
“I love you because you suffer. I want you to love me because you know I suffer.”
We believe that the purpose of relationships is to provide a space for each partner to raise their consciousness, ease their suffering and find peace.
It may seem ironic that we often attract the very person that reactivates our pathology. For example, in many ways JoAnn resembles my stepmother, a woman who was horrible to me in my formative years. Now, I could have found a woman who had none of those qualities, but then I never would have had to confront my past, identify my defenses, and heal my wounds. Because JoAnn and I trigger each other’s pathologies, we’re forced to do the work. We went from fighting viciously every week for four years to rarely fighting and truly and deeply reveling in each other’s presence.
Not that we don’t have a lot more work to do. Consciousness is a lifelong commitment. One is always increasing her consciousness, or by default, devolving. There is no idle.
A New Earth
According to spiritual teachers like Eckhart Tolle, ultimately, the future of the world depends on how much we can raise the collective consciousness. We’ll either evolve together or poison our environment and destroy humankind. And that’s the motivation for JoAnn and I in leading this workshop. Gandhi said “The future depends on what we do in the present.” Mother Theresa said, “We can do no great things, just small things with great love.” This is our small gift to the planet. We hope that in one of our future courses, you’ll accept it.