Spring is here, love is in the air and new relationships , as well as the flowers, can begin to bloom.
Unfortunately these days, intimate relationships can be one of the most difficult areas of our lives, and many people eventually start to experience more conflicts and struggle than intimacy and nurturing.
Just as a healthy body requires attention and effort, so too does a relationship if it is to have a strong foundation and weather the many storms of life.
Most people in our society share a peculiar belief: we imagine that we should be able to establish a rich and satisfying relationship with someone we love, even if we have never learned to relate to ourselves in a rich and satisfying way. How can we truly love and relate to another when we don’t love or know ourselves?
We seem to believe that a successful relationship depends mostly on finding the ‘right’ person and feeling or doing the ‘right’ things. We often don’t realize that we can only be as open and present with another as we are with ourselves.
A step in the right direction is to start cleaning the inner house first, whether you are in a relationship or not. It requires some time, inner reflection, and self- awareness. This is the process of becoming accountable for our own happiness and not looking to another to fill all the empty or unhappy places within.
When we take a step inwards, whether with a professional counsellor or seminars, or on our own using books, journaling, or meditation etc., we can awaken to unhealthy patterns, behaviours, and belief systems , most of which are learned in childhood and never healed or updated to reflect what is true today.
Thus, quite often troubled partnerships tend to look like two little kids fighting in the schoolyard: demanding, self-centered and frightened. Recognizing that an immature child exists within each of us, can be a painful and humiliating discovery.
To remain as a child means that we seek outside of ourselves for provisions, to survive, to feel good about ourselves. To grow up means becoming an emotionally self reliant and responsible individual. From an immature perspective focused on extracting as much as we can from others, we move to a life of generosity and love, which flows naturally from a relaxed and healthy adult.
When old patterns are revealed and healed they fall away, which brings a shift in our sense of who we are, from a false self, whose identity is based on old concepts from the past, to the true Self, whose nature is an ongoing openness to what is.
Most of us are disinclined to acknowledge the truth about ourselves. But the refusal to travel the sometimes difficult territory leaves an individual increasingly contracted and closed, making intimate bonding impossible, which is the very root of rich and healthy relationships.
Learning, growing and healing leaves us open and more available to receive, nurture and give love, not only with our intimate partner but with the relationships all around us: family, friends, animals, plants, the earth, and Spirit.
Mary Wallace is trained in counselling, transpersonal psychology and hypnotherapy, with offices in Campbell River and Comox B.C.