Relationships. Romantic, platonic, familial, professional, what-have-you. They can be wonderful, exhilarating, exhausting, confusing, hurtful, joyous, ridiculous, devastating, complicated, horrible, gut-wrenching, and validating. And sometimes they are all of these things at once, which can be a complete mind fuck. But they are inevitable, right? No man is an island and all that. So we must learn how to get the most good out of them with the least amount of hurt.
All relationships are assignments — there are no chance encounters! But it’s up to us to figure out the lessons. This is not an easy task! It’s really difficult to step away, look at our connections with others as objectively as possible, and figure out what the universe is trying to teach us. This takes time and (a lot of) patience. The worst part is that you usually only figure this out in retrospect! It takes a lot of effort and personal reflection to “catch” these lessons as they’re happening.
And we also need to remember that sometimes the lessons we learn are what NOT to do. When our parents set a horrible example of a loving romantic relationship, we need to believe we deserve better. When that terrible relationship we have with our dad reaches a point of no return, we need to have the strength to cut those blood ties, despite the fact that we’re family. When we suddenly realize our friends live in a space of negativity and only serve to lower our own vibration, we need to recognize that it’s okay to walk away. When you realize that you’re sacrificing pieces of you for a romantic relationship, you need to find your way back to your good path, even it means doing so alone.
But to be constantly mindful of your relationships and what they “mean” can be exhausting. However, I don’t necessarily think that’s what we’re supposed to be doing. If we spend all of our time analyzing relationships we won’t live them! However, I do think there are things we should be mindful of when we meet new people or have an occasion to thoughtfully consider current and past relationships.
First, we’re all equally special. Whether it’s a romantic partner, a parent, sibling, co-worker, or friend, there’s no need to idolize someone and put him/her on a pedestal. Continue to see the equality in others. Say to yourself, “I choose to perceive this person as equal and know that the light in them is equal to the light in me.” No one is more special than anyone else, so don’t treat them as if they are. “Special” love makes us neurotic, controlling, and insecure. As Gabby tells us: “We think we love our special partner, but really we fear them and hate them for not calling back or doing what we want them to do. We feel so beholden to this special partner because the ego makes us believe that we’re missing something… Set yourself free from your special illusions by simply recognizing whom you have made special. When you recognize this ego chaos, you diminish its power. You can see the ego in action and choose to begin the process of letting it go.” The ego tries to separate you from others and make you feel like you’re better/worse than other people. Recognize that & don’t let it! Each time you call out the ego on this illusion, you weaken its strength.
Secondly, know that everyone has an equal amount of awesomeness in them, whether they realize it or not. And whether they harness it and use it is up to them. Dr. Wayne Dyer explains: “Consider that all human beings have within them the same essence of consciousness, and that the process of creativity and genius are attributes of human consciousness. Therefore, genius is a potential that lives within you and every other human being. Many people never get acquainted with this inner world of their personal genius… With this idea in mind, remember that every person you interact with should feel the inner glow that comes from being appreciated, particularly for the ways in which they express their creativity. Appreciating the genius in others attracts high levels of competent energy to you. By seeing and celebrating another’s creative genius, you open a channel within yourself for receiving creative energy from your Divine Source.”
Third, gratitude in relationships is important, but you don’t have to be grateful for every experience you’ve ever had in your life! You can appreciate how certain tragedies may have made you more insightful and compassionate. You can acknowledge that you wouldn’t be YOU without having to endure certain heartbreaks. Maybe you’ve even used this knowledge to help others. You don’t have to be grateful for the experience, but you can be grateful that something of value has risen out of the ashes of your grief. If you force yourself to be grateful for everything, or if you feel disappointed in yourself because you can’t, you’re only getting in your own way! (hat tip to Ally Hamilton for this message!)
So as I’ve been spending some time recently giving some serious thought to one particular relationship in my life, here’s what I’ve realized: to paraphrase Gabby, when your source of happiness lies in another human being, you’re totally screwed. When you think that all the love you need is in one special person, you begin to believe you NEED this person to feel whole. It makes that one person better than you and everyone else. You do whatever it takes to make that special person happy. You become inauthentic.
But the good news is that I realized this before it was too late. I’ve spent months working on myself and you know what? I’ve realized that my source of happiness is ME. I’m no more special than anyone else, but I also don’t NEED anyone else to make me feel whole. I can be my authentic self. And this person just might stick around. But even if this formerly-special someone takes off, it’s okay. I don’t need to seek completion and self-worth in the arms of another. I am enough.
As Emily Gilmore explains to Lorelai on Gilmore Girls, when you’re in a canoe with someone and they drop their oar, and you try to paddle harder and harder on your side, all you do is spin in circles. But when you are in a kayak, when you ARE a kayak, completely in charge of paddling yourself through life, you determine your path.
I’ll leave you with this quote from Cheryl Strayed. Whether you’re dealing with difficulties in romance, friendship, family, or any other type of relationship, love is the only thing that’s real. In response to a man who asked her about the right time to tell someone you love them, she enthusiastically stated, “The best thing you can possibly do with your life is to tackle the motherfucking shit out of love.”
So tackle away my friends. Tackle that shit.