This chapter is really about healing. Nature reveals that in every relationship, no matter how small, challenge happens. You should not beat yourself up, or your partner for that matter, if you are being challenged. I spent my life searching for ways to reduce disasters and trauma, and so, in this chapter I want to share what I found about challenge, healing and minimizing the odds of disaster.
Everything grows. Every person grows physically, every tree. Even rocks erode and grow into something else. The whole universe grows. That growth is essential. So, our relationships grow too. There is an average growth rate of everything on earth. It’s called the golden mean, and it’s a mathematical thing. Pythagorus and a whole bunch of people far more clever than me, discovered it, and can explain it. The key is, that growth happens and it happens at a certain rate.
When something doesn’t grow, it either dies (nature destroys anything that doesn’t fulfill its purpose) or it gets a mighty shunt. This shunt, we call disaster and trauma. So, we can avoid disaster and trauma by avoiding the shunt that comes from lack of growth. Growth means, in a relationship at least, change.
Stuff happens in relationships and it is not unhealthy, let me explain why. You know a tsunami? This happens because the small steps of change did not happen and therefore a huge adjustment needs to happen. Like an earthquake or a volcano or even a social disturbance in a whole nation like 9/11 can actually reveal that small steps of change didn’t happen and a huge step of change had to transpire. So in a relationship, if you have relative peace or you are being distracted by your work or bringing children up well in the world or whatever, and suddenly there is a huge challenge facing you, all that it’s revealing is that the small steps of change did not take place and now it’s a big step. Work through that big step and you will be back on track and everything will be fine.
So, relationships are organisms that grow. When they don’t grow, drama and breakups happen. You are going to learn how to grow a relationship in the next chapter about dreams so, for now, we’re going to discuss how to move (grow) through the challenges of a relationship assuming that, you didn’t grow fast enough and you got a shunt.
Two people who are in a love-centered relationship can grow enlightened from all those challenges. Many people run away from a relationship because the challenge is there but that is not the right time to leave. If you overcome the challenge and get back on track you’ll find absolute love for your partner and make wise choices because now you are not in reaction. You know love is more that just a commitment to a good life, there is a huge integrity to love that reaches past the troubles too. If you can recover from a shunt, all the fragility and righteousness of the ego will be diminished, and beyond all the pain and the suffering love can reach right through all that stuff and maintains a long term sustainability.
Healing challenge is one of the most important steps along the way in relationships. Love is never fixed in a relationship so challenge is actually part of nature’s plan to grow love deeper. You will find with people who sustain long term relationships that they have gone through enormous challenges and if you ask them to look back on their lives and say what took the to this great place this long beautiful relationship they have, they will declare their ability to actually work through some of these really, really challenging experiences they have had, even affairs. You might think that it is more important to go to your yoga class or go to church or go and do some religious practice in India but this is more important to your spiritual upbringing than any thing else. But truly the ability to come back to love in a relationship where it has been lost it is probably the most sacred thing you can learn to do in that journey from your ego which is upset and hurt, because the only thing that can be hurt in life is your ego from that journey back to love that is the most sacred and spiritual path you can ever take. All the text books in the world that have been written about love can be compressed into the transformation of anger and disappointment and pain and suffering in a relationship back to love for that person and it is in that moment of love you can choose. You can choose wisely, do I stay or do I go? that is a problem but a least if you grow through challenge and back to love you are not reacting to another human being, reacting to another human being is giving your power to them.
Loving another human being seeing them as beautiful mirror of you that is the point at which you make a choice about your relationship that is not based on reaction the past or the conditioning that you might have and worst of all your friends advice.
One of the things in challenging times in our relationship is that we must maintain confidence in our spiritual practice. During times of challenge all our friends become expert as more and more people read one or two books and have one of two seminars and think they know everything about everything. And unfortunately it makes quite shallow the basis from which we make a relationship choice if we listen to friends. Really if you dug down and look at the relationships and the personal experiences of people who give most advice most often, they are incomplete. Incomplete advice is the worst one you can get.
The core of working through challenge in relationships is to be honest. To experience fully the emotional and the physical and the mental discomforts and the pains and the hurts and just really dig down and give yourself sometime to really experience what is going on. A lot of people arrest the discomfort too early, they feel themselves becoming emotional or hurt or in some level of suffering and try to arrest it and therefore they are dishonest to themselves because what they say is that they prefer to have love over that emotion, but emotion is important to fully feel what you feel. That is the purpose of meditation by the way, to sit down quietly by yourself and say what is going on inside what do I really feel. Now if somebody hurts you the most important thing to do is to sit down and say where is that coming from because it is not they hurting you it is a hurt that is within inside you that they are bringing out of you.
Let’s go through that again, so instead of blaming others for our pain or blaming others for the challenge in our relationship we must flip this up side down, and say they just brought out stuff that was already within me, so in other words if they made you angry or they made you hurt or if they made you sad or if they made you happy, those things existed inside you they already existed there and all your partner did was bringing them into the surface. And in that way love becomes sacred, a relationship bring out of you all the turmoil and all the negative things and all the positive things to that extent that are hidden within you, you can’t have good without bad if a relationship is going to bring the best in you then it is certainly going to bring the worst of you.
This means taking responsibility for your own happiness because the greatest pain on earth is blocked love, the greatest pain on earth is blocked love so if a person going through enormous suffering is because they are trying to stop loving somebody. Now you see this very often in death and funerals where people are grieving and they grieve for years later, because they think a dead person can’t be loved but a dead person just lost their body and you can encourage people that are going through grief to actually witness the fact that you can still love somebody that has passed and if they open their heart to them and stop missing all the materialized things which means their cuddles and their hugs and their bodies and their physical things if they stop focusing on that and start focusing on the love that they have for that person, nobody can leave us, nobody can hurt us.
So, we need to take responsibility not only for the fact that other people bring out our best and worst those best and worst preexisting inside us as our potential but we cause our own pain and we magnify problems by blocking love, we need to learn during times of challenge that the discomfort we are feeling is the blocking of love and the only thing that blocks our love is our ego and the ego is based on myriad of things to try to understand or unravel that ego is nearly impossible by yourself, it is called psychology and it takes a really great expert to really read through the parameters of the human ego. My preference is to jump over it, understand the fundamentals in which life is built which is love, understand that what trauma or challenge that we are going though is the blockage of love and work thought the things that are blocking it, the first thing we said here is take responsibility the second thing now we are saying is to understand that blocking love is going to make things worst .
Lets move on now, if you went into nature all your worries and all your fears and all your issues vanish. Love comes from you and not to you, remember, that what you put into your relationship love and the more you put in the more you get back, you need to remember how you felt for this person in the first months, when you met them how grateful you were to meet them for the first time, how thankful you were how happy you were that this relationship had began and you need to actually own that space and say if I had it once I can have it again. That is a discipline so the third step in working though challenge is discipline to go back to the old behaviors that caused your relationships to magnified and to grow at a great rate, now those things include small things like a let’s say for example little text messages, gifts, putting flowers in the house and you can remember how you behaved in those two three months repeat those behaviors it is a discipline and can say even though I don’ t feel the same way right now I am going to behave the same, that is not dishonest that is creating an environment for love, and that is the whole fifth chapter of this book.
A sacred relationship brings you out it reveals you; it is not about your lover it is about you. Naked, striped of all your disguises, your feelings, emotions and issues everything will surface. Who are you really does not matter because you have to take responsibility for everything you feel in a relationship, that is why it is so confronting and why a lot of people stay single, because they want their kingdom or their queendom whatever it is called, to stay undisturbed. They don’t want people coming in and revealing them, exposing them. Now I have been in relationships with people that say they love me, but they love me as long as I don’t; challenge their little world. They said I have enough challenge I don’t need more challenge if this relationship challenges me it is not what I want, I don’t want challenge from you, I want love, I want betterment because all the rest of my life is challenged enough. A real relationship can’t exist under those circumstances long term, sure there are periods when in a relationship you might support your partner and actually bent backwards to make sure that you don’t add challenge to their world but you can’t do that long term. So yes, there are periods, weeks and months where you can say my partner is going through enormous crises at the moment I will back away from giving them any challenge but that is a swallowing of yourself, so the truth of the matter is a real relationship operates at the border of support and challenge and if you just be yourself as you would be in nature as you would be when no one is watching if you just be yourself that is the perfect self to bring to a relationship. The angry one, the happy one, the sad one, the needy one, the not needy one, the dependant one the independent one they are just being yourself without some fictitious model that people created out of a book or a seminar, this REAL you will be the best in relationships.
So that is the third premise of a sacred relationship moving through challenge apply the disciplines. Being exposed vulnerable in a relationship is one of the keys to intimacy now there is a lot of rhetoric goes on about being independent and bringing your best self to a relationship but vulnerability means you testify, you admit, you confess how much you really want to be with this person and if they leave it is going to hurt. That is the good thing, it is not about protecting yourself and making yourself immune from pain. It’s saying I am capable. Now this is to me like going snow skiing, when you go snow skiing with a child that is 10 years old or 12 years old and you watch them go down the slope, typically they will go down full bullet they won’t try to put the brakes on, but after a few crashes after a few times when they have rolled over and even maybe sprained an ankle or done something else, they will start slowing down. Now there’s allot of people in relationships who start slowing down. They start slowing down because they have been down the slope before they got hurt they know how bad it feels in fact they probably say, “I don’t want to have what I had happen last time, I will be careful”. And they put the brakes on because they’ve got fear.
Now it is far wiser to take that 10 or 12 year old kid that fell off on the slope to a ski class and teach them how to fall and teach them how to stop so when they go back to the top of the slope next time they look down and say there is no reason to go slow, there is no reason to put the brakes on because if they get into trouble they know what to do about it.
So, it is like in a relationship as far as I am concerned, you don’t apply the principles of healing – or be cautionary unless it goes wrong. If you put the breaks on or if you keep applying the principles that make you safe in a relationship every time challenge occurs you are going to stay single and cause your relationship to fail. Intimacy means no brakes, fully open hearted, because this other person in the relationship wants you to turn up vulnerable and I mean that in a more than just the emotional sense.
Long term deep spiritual happiness comes from the contentment that grows out of perspective of love, now what am I saying there I am saying that you need to be content within yourself. Now blaming the relationship for disturbing your cup of tea is not going to work, you need to turn up in your relationship content with yourself. Now what’s that mean, how do we get content? Well content means you don’t want to change yourself, therefore you don’t want to change others, you realize that growth is going to occur yes, but you become content with things as they are in other words thankful for what you’ve got. Now the last chapter in this book, chapter two of this book spoke about gratitude and appreciation for another person, being romance. So romance and contentment is the same topic, thankful for another person, thankful for who you are as you are rather than obsess we try to change them make them better, trying to change your perspective of them. I had one client, she got so judgmental of her ex-partner you know, his hairstyle and his this and his that, in the end she is going to remain single for the rest of her life now because she has such a narrow definition of who is the right guy, instead of expanding her definition of love expanding her definition of lovability she is contracted it, and she calls that spiritual. It really is the opposite to spirituality to say I can’t absorb some of the unique differentials in my partner.
We need to say my love is limited by my judgments and if I can move through a judgment I expand my love. So if your partner is doing stuff that you don’t like and you learn to love them more, which means seeing the good and bad side equally, then you just grew in your love, and then you are in harmony with nature, and there is no need for a tsunami.
The last important thing in this process of moving though challenge is to avoid reaction. Reaction is very primal, it is as primal as a monkey, it is about as primal as an animal mind. An animal mind reacts, so in times of challenge sometimes our old primal self who still sits inside us, reacts to another person and we want to be angry at them or we want to run away or we want to do something as a result of their behavior. But it is very unwise to react in a relationship, you need to cut yourself some slack, cut yourself some time, make a break, go away from the situation and say to your partner “I need timeout I need a minute” Now that is not a week or a month or a year to deal with an issue, because those are really called separations. I am talking about an hour at the most, you need to separate yourself from that person you feel reactive towards, to move away to sit down by yourself and say “wow I am feeling reactive I know that is not appropriate” So here is the question I asked myself when I am reacting to another person I know it is my ego so I say these things, firstly, “when have I done what are they doing”. The first step we have to do is to get off the pedestal and we have to say to ourselves “where have I been like them?”. You need to be honest with yourself and say “where have I done that?” when you can find where you have done what they have done you can say “how did those people benefit from what I did?” In other words, find the good news in this bad behavior.
This expands your consciousness instead of contracting it. It expands your love and instead of sitting on your pedestal going “I am all high and mighty I have never hurt anybody and I have never done anything wrong and I have never done that to anybody and I have never been so this and I have never been so that”, you can get off the pedestal come down to earth and admit “nobody can do to me more than I have don’t to myself, nobody can do anything that I have not already done it is just that I have done It in a different way”. So if they are being nasty, you can say “well I don’t speak nasty words and in my whole life I have not spoken a nasty word but maybe the look in my eye, maybe the way I do business, it maybe the way I feed your children, I don’t know, but it will be something, there is no maybe about it”
Whatever behavior you see in another person that is just a reflection of behavior you’ve got because every person is the same, it just changes in form. That is the first step, the second step is to sit there and go what is the benefit to me of it is a negative behavior, what is the benefit to me for doing it and what it the benefit to others for receiving it. Now please don’t, in this analysis, say the benefit is that I learned not to do it, because you did not learn not to do it because you still have it within you, it is called our human potential. This is how relationships grow us.
We grow through challenge by learning to love the thing we hate in others, in ourselves first.