Relationships…when they are healthy and balanced, they can be life-giving and energizing. A supportive relationship, founded in love, whether it is romantic or friendship based, can offer an invigorating level of companionship and life-long support. In a balanced relationship, energy and is given back and forth, and grows — uplifting both people into their highest creativity.
However, when relationships lose their balance, the opposite energy flow occurs; each person feels short of energy and thus begins to try and force energy their way with criticism and control dramas. We all have experienced the feeling of weariness that comes when interpersonal hostility develops.
The solution is always the same. Each person must find their own inner source of security and inspiration, and then become fully conscious of when this connection is lost.
Just remember that we all have a spiritual download of Peace, Calm, and Inspiration (to do something with our lives) waiting for us. Once we find our inspired path, we can speak our truths in a loving and helpful way, without the need to dominate. In a relationship, our time should be spent supporting each others’ goals and dreams, and discussing the synchronicities that are guiding the way.
We become wiser together… and that’s what it’s all about
~ James Redfield
It’s odd how one thing could be the cause of so many contrary feelings. But that’s what makes love so beautiful – it’s the closest thing to perfection that exists in the world, the only thing that can easily and comfortably encompass both good and evil, beautiful and ugly.
It’s the closest thing to a flawless whole that man has ever claimed to have been part of.
When we think of love, we think of the happy kind of love, the kind that is the beginning of something beautiful – something that breathes life.
There is, however, another kind of love, a much darker and sadder kind of love. It’s the love one feels when one loves someone he or she can never and will never have.
It’s the kind of love that doesn’t signal the beginning of something beautiful, but rather the end of something that might have been beautiful, but will never amount to anything more than what it is.
Contrary to popular belief or popular wishful thinking, love doesn’t always end happily. It doesn’t always result in the joining of two people, the fusing of two lives into one.
Sometimes, on rare occasions, it results in the wedging apart of the two who love each other the most. You can love someone with all your soul and never get a chance to be with that person. Even worse, you can know that you love him or her, understanding there is no possibility that the two of you will ever be together.
Some people cannot and will not ever end up together, even if they do love each other. It’s a sad truth, but a truth, nonetheless.
The fact is, love is not enough. All those fairytales, all those stories and movies you’ve heard and watched growing up, lied to you. Love is never enough because love is not rational.
You hear that love is irrational all the time, yet you still hear the same people saying that love is enough to keep two people together.
Unfortunately, we live in a world governed by rationality, and while love may be irrational, and we may manage to make it work for some time, the real world always catches up with us and our irrational illusions dissipate into thin air.
Then we are left with reality and reality doesn’t always reason the way lovers do.
Some people don’t work out together. They have habits or beliefs that make it impossible to co-habitate with the person they love. There isn’t a couple out there that loves every little thing about one another.
Sure, they may find certain quirks cute or unique, but they don’t love them; they simply accept them. There are some people who have such habits, tendencies, or thinking patterns that really do make them incompatible with the other person.
The two may love each other fully, because remember, love isn’t rational, yet not be able to live and deal with each other forever. This is why relationships require compromise.
You’re not going to love everything about the person you are with, but you love enough about him or her to live with the things you don’t love. Not all people are willing to, or even able to, compromise. Sometimes it just doesn’t work, regardless of what our emotions tell us.
Compromising, of course, is a choice. You either choose to make it work or you choose not to. I believe this fully. As long as something doesn’t go against your nature, over time you can make it work. But there are still some cases when compromising isn’t enough.
Sometimes there are other reasons two people cannot and will not ever be together. In fact, this is usually the deciding factor of whether or not two lovers will be capable of spending their lives together: if they are able to forgive and forget.
Because love is as intense an emotion as one gets, it occasionally leads us to make poor choices – choices that are hurtful to the ones we love.
They may be poor calls of judgment, lies we told or things we said. When it comes to love, our pasts haunt us. We move from relationship to relationship, hauling all that luggage we managed to accumulate in our previous relationship.
Because lovers who can’t work together don’t like to accept this fact, they have a tendency of breaking up and getting back together repeatedly.
Each time they take a break from each other, they come back and try to start fresh. But the problem is, they’re still carrying all that luggage. And sooner or later, they start to unpack. All the demons come out.
When love scars, it cuts deep. The pain isn’t easily forgotten and usually cannot be willfully forgotten. When you hurt the woman you love enough, she won’t come back to you. And because you still love her, you wouldn’t take her back even if she asked you to.
You don’t trust yourself not to hurt her again and even if you did, she wouldn’t trust you not to hurt her again. Relationships are built on trust and you shattered her trust.
Chances are, you both have bruises that have never fully healed and likely will never fully heal. And that’s just something you decided that you’ll have to live with. Why?
Because you really don’t have any other options. You just hope that the two of you find others to love so you can think about each other less and so you don’t have to worry about her happiness anymore.
You wait in hopes that new love can take the place of the old — which it can. But that doesn’t mean you will ever stop loving each other. Some people will love each other until the day they die, spending the majority of their lives apart. And so is the darker side of love.
Relationships that are based on control and unconscious drives and needs are codependent. The main indicator of codependency is focusing more attention on the actions and feelings of another person(s) than you do on yourself, and feeling that you have to control everything that happens. When your thoughts are dominated by what other people are doing, you are not, by definition, centered in your own inner process.
If your energy level fluctuates based on what others do or say, you might be codependent. If you feel like you have to monitor everything and make it work, you might be codependent. When you are struggling to control, you are not allowing the synchronicities of the universe to help you to develop.
~ James Redfield
Now in our mid-seventies, my wife and I have no imminent need for assisted living or nursing care. But the house we live in is, by definition, a two-person residential facility for the aging. Here at what we fondly call The Home, it’s not uncommon for one of us to try “improve” the other’s quality of life by offering “extra services.” Unfortunately, those services often take the form of advice.
A few years ago, my wife gave me some advice that struck me as — how shall I say? — superfluous. Remembering our experience with my mother, I said, “Could I pay a little less this month?” To this day, that line gives us a chance to laugh instead of getting defensive when one of us attempts, as both of us do now and then, to give the other unsolicited and unwanted “help.”
Advice-giving comes naturally to our species, and is mostly done with good intent. But in my experience, the driver behind a lot of advice has as much to do with self-interest as interest in the other’s needs — and some advice can end up doing more harm than good.
Last week I got a call from a man who’d recently been diagnosed with terminal cancer. He’d emailed his bad news to a few family members and friends, one of whom had come over right away. “How are you feeling?” his friend asked. “Well, as I said in my email, I’m feeling amazingly at peace with all this. I’m not worried about what lies ahead.”
The friend replied, “Look, you need to get a second opinion. At the same time, you should start exploring complementary medicine. You should also sign up for a meditation program, and I know a good book that can get you started down that path.”
I asked my caller how that response had made him feel. “I’m sure my friend meant well,” he said, “but his advice left me less at peace.”
I told him I’d have felt the same way, and offered this image: Imagine that I need support with a serious problem, when along comes a guy with advanced CPR certification. He’s so eager to show off his skills that he isn’t able to hear my true need. Instead, he starts administering chest compressions and “rescue breathing,” even though I’m perfectly able to breathe for myself. Now I have another big problem as I try to fight off the “helper” who’s smothering me.
I asked my caller how he would have felt if his friend had simply said, “How great that you’re at peace! Tell me more.” “That would have been wonderful,” he replied. “But everyone I talked to had advice for me, including a relative who said I needed to join her church before it was too late.”
I asked how he’d been feeling recently — he said he’d been feeling afraid. “Do you want to talk about your fear?”, I asked. He talked while I listened and asked a few more questions. When we were done, he told me that some measure of peace had returned. It was a peace that had come from within him, not from anything I’d said. I’d simply helped clear some rubble that blocked his access to his own soul.
My misgivings about advice began with my first experience of clinical depression thirty-five years ago. The people who tried to support me had good intentions. But, for the most part, what they did left me feeling more depressed.
Some went for the nature cure: “Why don’t you get outside and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air? Everything is blooming and it’s such a beautiful day!” When you’re depressed, you know intellectually that it’s beautiful out there. But you can’t feel a bit of that beauty because your feelings are dead — and being reminded of that gap is depressing.
Other would-be helpers tried to spruce up my self-image: “Why so down on yourself? You’ve helped so many people.” But when you’re depressed, the only voice you can hear is one that tells you that you’re a worthless fraud. Those compliments deepened my depression by making me feel that I’d defrauded yet another person: “If he knew what a worm I am, he’d never speak to me again.”
Here’s the deal. The human soul doesn’t want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed — to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is. When we make that kind of deep bow to the soul of a suffering person, our respect reinforces the soul’s healing resources, the only resources that can help the sufferer make it through.
Aye, there’s the rub. Many of us “helper” types are as much or more concerned with being seen as good helpers as we are with serving the soul-deep needs of the person who needs help. Witnessing and companioning take time and patience, which we often lack — especially when we’re in the presence of suffering so painful we can barely stand to be there, as if we were in danger of catching a contagious disease. We want to apply our “fix,” then cut and run, figuring we’ve done the best we can to “save” the other person.
During my depression, there was one friend who truly helped. With my permission, Bill came to my house every day around 4:00 PM, sat me down in an easy chair, and massaged my feet. He rarely said a word. But somehow he found the one place in my body where I could feel a sense of connection with another person, relieving my awful sense of isolation while bearing silent witness to my condition.
By offering me this quiet companionship for a couple of months, day in and day out, Bill helped save my life. Unafraid to accompany me in my suffering, he made me less afraid of myself. He was present — simply and fully present — in the same way one needs to be at the bedside of a dying person.
It’s at such a bedside where we finally learn that we have no “fix” or “save” to offer those who suffer deeply. And yet, we have something better: our gift of self in the form of personal presence and attention, the kind that invites the other’s soul to show up. As Mary Oliver has written:
“This is the first, the wildest and the wisest thing I know: that the soul exists and is built entirely out of attentiveness.”
I leave you with two pieces of advice — a flagrant self-contradiction for which my only defense is Emerson’s dictum that “consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” (1) Don’t give advice, unless someone insists. Instead, be fully present, listen deeply, and ask the kind of questions that give the other a chance to express more of his or her own truth, whatever it may be. (2) If you find yourself receiving unwanted advice from someone close to you, smile and ask politely if you can pay a little less this month.