Creating Healthier Relationships
Our relationships are a reflection of our inner state of being. We attract people who reflect our warmth, openness and love. They are also a reflection of our hurts, fears and unresolved issues. The experiences that we go through in our early relationships also help to set the stage that determines the kinds of people that we attract and find ourselves attracted to.
Unfulfilled needs and desires that are held within our subconscious are often projected out onto other people. These unmet needs and desires can cause us to experience intensely powerful feelings and desires to be with another person who comes to represent everything that we have longed for.
I found myself caught up in these powerful projections on a number of occasions and it felt wonderful when the person I desired reciprocated my feelings. But was I carrying so many hurts and unfulfilled needs within myself. My projections blinded me so that I could not really see what I was doing. My projections also prevented me from seeing the other person for who she truly was. The resulting distortions in my judgment caused me to act in ways that I later regretted. There were also some instances where my projections placed a tremendous strain on the other person and the connection that we shared.
It hurt like hell when my feelings were not reciprocated. I sometimes became so caught up in my projections and then I did everything I could to make the relationship work. That only made the situation worse.
I eventually learned to stop fighting what is by breathing into the pain, loss, emptiness, loneliness, separation, abandonment, rejection or whatever other feelings came up. The painful feelings would gradually dissipate and I could feel myself letting go of the other person as that happened. Breathing into the feelings also created an opening within me that allowed me to experience a stronger connection to my own internal source. I became the center of my own universe and I no longer needed the other person to be my lifeline. The projections lost so much of their power as I continued to digest the powerful emotions that I held within my subconscious. I combined this practice with the vision quest and other healing practices. I gradually healed, became more present in my body and began to attract healthier relationships.
Learning to Contain Powerful Desires
Some of us become so entranced by another personís physical beauty. Guys are especially bad about doing this and it seems that weíre genetically wired to respond to someoneís looks. We sometimes become so transfixed by a womanís physical beauty that we get lost in our fantasy projection and think that we have found our soul mate.
These powerful feelings of attraction are probably a combination of our genetic makeup and our projected needs and desires. That magnetic pull has often caused me to become attached to another person in unhealthy ways or to become involved in relationships that I later regretted.
Itís important for me to learn from my experiences. I tend to use everything that happens in my life as a means of transformation. Iíll focus my awareness within the feelings and sensations that I experience within my body whenever I experience that strong pull or desire to be with someone. I then breathe softly and deeply as I allow these powerful feelings and sensations to completely flood my body and mind.
Staying connected to my body and feelings allows me to become more conscious of whatís happening at the various levels of my interactions. It helps me to become more cognizant of the patterns that are playing out within my relationships, to really see the person that Iím interacting with and understand where sheís coming from.
Letting Go of Whatís Not Working
I have often felt like I had to work so much harder to maintain any kind of connection in New York City. I had gotten to know a few women that I really liked some years ago, but I felt like I was putting out so much effort just to maintain the connection. That felt really horrible and I became aware how unhappy I was. Holding on caused me to disconnect from myself and that prevented me from experiencing my true feelings. Disconnecting from my feelings kept me from letting go of the unhealthy attachments.
I began to pay attention to how I felt within my body and I could sense that I had completely overextended myself. The lack of reciprocation left me feeling emotionally drained and out of balance.
I could feel that it just wasnít working and I knew that I had to let go and I decided that I was better off being alone. I started breathing into the feeling of being overextended. I could then feel myself coming back to my center. Feelings of need, desire, fear of loss and abandonment began to emerge as I continued to go down through the layers. Those feelings dissipated as I continued to breathe into them. From that point on I just stopped making any effort to reach out.
I was trying so hard to find someone and I was always reaching out. I had never really gotten in touch with the underlying feelings before. I felt this tremendous void opening up within myself once I stopped resisting. I experienced such a profound sense of emptiness and aloneness. The feelings initially seemed unbearable, and they intensified as I began to breathe into them. But I continued to breathe into these feelings every night for a month. The intense feelings of longing began to dissipate and that changed the way that I engaged with others. I was able to just be with the emptiness and all the other feelings, emotions and sensations that surfaced. That made it possible for me to be much more present in my body. I could feel in subsequent interactions when I was starting to overextend myself. I would then pull back to my own center. I continue to engage with people that I feel drawn to, but now I stop and feel how things are flowing. Iíll then take a step back and give the other person an opportunity to reciprocate.
A big part of my daily practice involves working with the issues and emotions that are brought to the surface as I interact with other people. My relationships show me where I need to be working by continually putting me in touch with the parts of myself that are stuck, hurting, immature and confused. I feel these parts of myself healing and evolving as I breathe into the feelings and work with other healing practices. My awareness continues to develop as I digest the emotional baggage and work with practices to develop my body and mind. This enables me to gradually change the way that I feel about and engage with other people.
I can now feel where people are coming from, the issues and emotions that they hold within themselves, their intentions and the various resources that they possess. I feel the chemistry as I engage with another person. I usually just let go if I feel any resistance or if I sense that the other person would not be a healthy influence for me. I feel the kind of connection that is possible between myself and the other person. I feel what the other person is capable of and then I leave myself open to the kind of connection that wants to develop naturally.
Trying to Get Someone to Do or Be Something for Us
We sometimes struggle so hard to make our relationships work. Weíre often trying to get other people to do or be something for us. We do everything we possibly can to get our partners or the person that we want to be partnered with to reciprocate our love, to listen to us, or to stop drinking, smoking or doing other things that destroy themselves or that hurt us. Resisting whatís really happening within our relationships by suppressing our hurts and fears can create overwhelmingly powerful needs within us that can never be fulfilled. This can make it very difficult for us to let go of another person or to allow them to be who they are and to do what they are going to do.
We may then find ourselves in excruciating pain when they donít live up to our expectations. Most of us tend to avoid these feelings or push them outside of our awareness because they feel so painful. These emotions freeze up inside of our body and mind. That prevents us from growing or changing, so that we remain stuck in the dysfunctional patters that are causing us so much pain. Continually trying to control the outcome can be very exhausting. We can try so hard for so long and then weíre left with feelings of exhaustion, heaviness and a deep sense of disappointment.
We become so caught up in the drama of our relationships and that can prevent us from ever getting to the source of the problem. Itís important for us to be fully honest with ourselves by acknowledging whatís really happening when our relationships are not giving us what we feel that we truly need. We can start by asking ourselves "Whatís the deepest feeling behind (this story or my thoughts about the situation or person)?" We need to breathe softly and deeply as we allow ourselves to fully experience the feelings without trying to change them.
Bring the person or situation fully into your awareness and then ask yourselves questions such as "Whatís really happening in my relationship right now? ÖHow does it really feel that this person is (whatever it is theyíre doing that causes you to feel hurt, scared, upset or stressed out?) How does it feel that the person I love so much does not love me? How does it feel that we will very likely never be together? How does it feel that they donít bother to call or show consideration for my needs? How does it really feel when he drinks every night? How does it really feel that she doesnít see any value in the things that are important to me?" We need to then breathe into any feelings that arise in response to whatís happening within our relationships.
Looking for Love
I found it very difficult to connect romantically for much of my life. It often felt that I just wasnít on the same wavelength. I tend to relate from my feelings, yet many of the people that I encountered seemed to be so uncomfortable with their own feelings and were unwilling to address their own issues. I often felt like it wasnít okay for me to be myself or to be real or honest with my own feelings.
Many of the guys that I knew talked about how they wanted score. Women would then tell me how important it was for them to be pursued by a man, and some even talked about the things they wanted to get their boyfriends to buy for them.
Both men and women pretend that they are not really interested to look as if they are hard to get. Others say theyíre interest and tell us they will call and then we never hear from them, or they donít bother to return our call (even though they encouraged us to give them a call), and some will intentionally do things to cause pain.
People lose their capacity to experience empathy for others when they disconnect from their bodies and their true feelings. People then start hurting one another because they themselves are confused, hurt and angry. Playing games with other peopleís feelings only perpetuates the cycle of abusive behavior by creating more unnecessary hurt and confusion. Being so disingenuous prevents us from growing or ever developing the capacity to experience true intimacy. Itís important for us to question some of the things that we accept as part of the normal dance of mating behavior that are cruel and strategizing that are not about rapport, connection, honesty and mutual vulnerability. We all have the choice in the matter. We can strategize or we can be loving, caring and authentic.
There are many behaviors that I no longer tolerate. I feel the toxicity in others and Iíve become so much more selective of the people that I allow into my life. All the work Iíve done to heal is making it possible for me to attract a higher quality of people and Iím meeting more truly exceptional people everywhere I go.
Spending time among different cultures has helped see that there are so many different ways of thinking, feeling and doing things. Traveling to Sri Lanka and India was a real shock in the beginning. I found myself in a completely different world and it took some getting used to. But I adapted to my surroundings and the people that I encountered. Before long I realized that I felt more at home in this part of the world and that it was easier for me to connect with people.
Many South Asians are still very stuck in the old traditional value systems. Some people are just very small minded and others have never really known anything else. But I was often surprised to find how open and receptive my friends are new ideas and ways of doing things. I also found that many of the South Asians tend to be much more open and honest with their feelings.
I really value close friends of either gender. Yet, Iíve always felt more comfortable with women and have more female friends. I developed a number of close friendships during the time Iíve spent in India and Sri Lanka and I later became romantically involved. One of the things that I appreciate most about the women that I got to know is that they are very sincere and honest about what they truly feel. They really let you know if they like you. Theyíre also very warm emotionally and they show you that they really care through their actions.
Learning to Assert Our Needs
Kyra began to work for a technology firm a few years ago. The work itself is highly rewarding and Kyra is doing something she truly loves and believes in that is addressing some very crucial issues affecting our world today.
Kyra ís boss is an extremely dysfunctional man who thrives on toxic drama. Kyra has tolerated the situation for some time because she realizes that she has found a very rare and valuable opportunity to acquire the skills and knowledge that will allow her to be successful in her career.
Kyra has had a great deal of difficulty saying no and has never really learned to assert her own needs. She often finds herself drawn into situations where other people overstep their boundaries. Kyraís boss continually imposes on her. Kyra ends up working excessively long hours, and she often has to cover for actions of her employer that would be considered highly unethical. The stress does take its toll on Kyra. Sheís often physically and emotionally exhausted when I see her.
I instructed Kyra to notice how she felt as she brought her boss into the forefront of her awareness, and to allow herself to feel the energies and emotions that she would experience in response to the interaction with her employer.
Kyra told me that she found it difficult to access her feelings. Thatís not surprising, because many of us have developed very powerful defensive structures that prevent us from accessing the deeper emotions associated with our core wounds. Kyra kept going up into her intellect and analyzing the situation. It helps to gain an intellectual understanding, but that alone will not change the dysfunctional relational dynamics that we often find ourselves stuck in.
I kept pulling Kyraís attention back to the feelings and sensations in her body. I kept asking her "Whatís the deepest feeling that you can access in response to the interaction with your boss?" I then instructed Kyra to breathe into any feelings or sensations that she was able to access. Kyra told me that she felt nauseous at one point. Nausea is a very common response when we begin to access the deeper layers of feeling and emotions associated with the core issues that we have held within our bodies for so many years. Kyra began to relate some memories of situations within her own childhood when her parents did not recognize her basic needs. She went on to tell me that at a deep level that she did not feel entitled to her own needs, and she felt that it was not okay to ask for what she needed.
As I mentioned before, our defenses often prevent us from feeling the painful emotions associated with our deep core issues. We may then find ourselves in situations where we continually attract the same kinds of people and experiences into our lives. Painful feelings and emotions keep us in a state of contraction. The buried feelings and emotions hold everything in place. Nothing will change until we allow ourselves to fully experience our true feelings.
Feeling our true feelings makes us malleable. Dysfunctional patterns begin to disassemble themselves. The generative healing power that resides within our body and mind can then facilitate a process of reorganization. This makes it possible for us to assert our needs, make other necessary changes and to attract and create healthier relationships.
Itís so easy to fall into dysfunctional patterns as we interact with other people. We often find ourselves getting caught up in some drama or reacting to other people or situations. We may allow others to take advantage of us, impose upon us or we end up picking up after someone who doesnít do their part. Thatís why itís so important for us to pay attention when we find ourselves confronted with a person or situation that brings our issues and emotions to the surface.
I make a real conscientious effort to pay attention to all the subtle and not so subtle feelings that I experience within my body as I interact with people. I will often center my awareness in the middle of any feelings or sensations as they emerge. Working with this process enables me to relate with people at a deeper level.
Iíll stop at other times when Iím alone, close my eyes and then Iíll picture the other person in front of me or imagine myself in the midst of a given situation. I begin to pay attention to all of the feelings, emotions and sensations that arise within my own body. I then breathe softly and deeply as I focus my awareness in the middle of the feelings and sensations. Breathing into the feelings and sensations often evokes memories of other people and events pertaining to the same issue. I allow myself to go wherever the feelings want to take me. This practice takes me to the underlying source of the conflict, which in turn makes it easier for me to process the emotions and resolve the issues.
Many of us never really process the emotions that we feel in response to the people and events that leave us feeling hurt. That often prevents us from ever resolving the issues. We then develop a number of patterns or themes that play out in many different contexts within our lives. Avoiding, resisting or suppressing our emotions reinforces our dysfunctional dynamic. It also prevent us from seeing whatís really happening within ourselves and our relationships.
We have a corrective mechanism within our own body and mind. This innate healing intelligence seeks to right itself when we bring consciousness to the unresolved issues and emotions that we hold within ourselves. We can help to facilitate this process as we breathe into the feelings, emotions and sensations that we experience in response to whatís happening in our lives. Working with this practice makes it possible for us to relate from a place of greater authenticity so that we can engage with others in healthier ways. This will enable us to come to a new understanding, to let go and move on, to assert our needs or to make whatever other changes are necessary for our continued growth.
I initially have people focus their awareness on their unresolved issues and the hurts that they carry within because these things often do not get processed. Working through your hurts and fears, resolving your issues and cleaning up the drama and confusion brings you to a place where you can experience true love and acceptance for yourself. Other people will then reflect this love back to you.
We experience a broad range of feelings and sensations as we engage with others. Itís also important for us to breathe into all the pleasurable feelings and sensations that we experience. Pleasurable feelings and sensations help us to feel more safe and at home within our bodies and with others. Our hearts open and we become more present as we breathe into feelings associated with love and intimacy. Increasing our capacity intimacy in this way makes it possible for us to develop the more nurturing aspects of our relationships and deepen our connections to the people that we love.
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