It is our nature to love and be loved. We are all drawn to be in close, loving relationships with others. Yet, harmonious relationships still elude most people. It is common belief that relationship is naturally a struggle. It is expected that we have to work very hard to have lasting love and harmony in relationships, especially intimate ones. Yet, I do not believe that we must accept this as “just the way it is.”
It is true that relationships bring up all of our relational wounding and conditioning, which can be very challenging, to say the least. And, awakening to our true nature does not automatically eliminate this conditioning or wounding. Yet, awakening does make it possible to do the one thing that will finally resolve it—to allow it to be as it is and release in the presence of being. This takes a deep commitment and a deep understanding that doing anything else is futile.
Without awakening to our essential nature, we are left with three choices when painful conditioning arises in relationship. These are the habitual strategies that we continue to do until we know the fourth choice, and commit to that.
- Avoidance: There are seemingly endless ways we can avoid painful experience. We can go into denial, repress it, tune out, numb out, shut down, go to the refrigerator for food, turn on the TV, or be passive aggressive.
- Indulgence: When painful conditioning arises in relationship, it is common to indulge it through reactivity, anger, blame, attack, projection, demands, judgment, and criticism.
- Fixing: When the first two do not work (and they won’t) we go about trying to fix or change our experience, our self, or the other. We might try to replace anger with compassion (while steaming inside). We may also apply many methods and techniques to change our behavior (or theirs). This takes a lot of effort and has some usefulness—up to a point. But in case you haven’t noticed, it never truly releases and liberates us from our wounding and conditioning.
The fourth choice is to allow everything to be as it is. This is the only choice that will fully resolve, release or transform our relational wounds and conditioning. First, it requires direct recognition of the aware presence that pervades all experience. Once that is recognized, it requires a deep commitment to rely on that rather than the other strategies mentioned above. All other choices cannot ultimately bring harmony and healing because they are forms of resistance to what is. Life is not intended to flow in a beneficial way when we are in resistance to what is. The natural flow of life is found in resting as the vast presence that is already and always allowing everything to be as it is.
Even with awakening, this can be extremely challenging if our conditioning is particularly traumatic. It may require therapeutic assistance in addition to resting as the awareness of being. Sometimes both are needed. But there is only one thing that is essential, and that is direct recognition of our essential nature. That is where the solutions are to all of our relationship (and other) struggles are found. We will not find solutions in thoughts, emotions or strategies.
Awakened relating involves actually relying on the vast resource within us that is an infinite source of love, wisdom, power and everything else we ever need or seek in relationship. We rely on that and that alone—one moment at a time. Then if any thing needs to be said or done in the relationship, or with our self, it will be obvious from a place of clarity and kindness, rather than from resistance to what is. From within the openness of our own awareness, solutions and skillful means are provided as needed.
The challenges of relationship are precious gifts in that they provide tremendous opportunities for awakening to our deeper truth. Since nothing else will ultimately work, the challenges point us to this truth relentlessly, lovingly, and with compassion, until we find our way home to true freedom.