When Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin used the phrase “conscious uncoupling” to describe the process of their separation, it brought to light the possibility of ending relationships without trauma and drama and for having ease, peace, and kindness.
Being in relationships is also an area where most of us believe that struggle and drama are inevitable. It doesn’t have to be. That’s where consciousness comes in.
Many people think if they wake up and open their eyes in the morning, that they are conscious. But the consciousness I am talking about here is the kind that creates a difference in your life; it is about becoming more aware of different choices you can make to create more of what you desire. Consciousness is very pragmatic. It is well placed when applied to relationships. Without consciousness, we often struggle to find the opportunity to create the changes we want.
A relationship should enhance your life as an individual and as a couple. It should be enjoyable, contribute to both of you, and create a sense of freedom and empowerment so that your lives get greater as a result of your choice to be a couple.
All too often what happens is that people get together, then build up expectations, projections, and judgments of ourselves and our partners, which eliminates the ability for the relationship to thrive. When you function from the judgments of what you think you, your partner, or relationship should be, you override your ability to look at what would work, what would be joyful. Such judgments stop you from seeing options you have that could benefit both of you.
Here are my top 3 tips for adding consciousness in a pragmatic way, reconnecting you to possibilities for a greater relationship.
1. Stop the judgment cycle by instead asking, “What else is possible?”
Asking this question may be simple, but it is also highly practical because it stops you from playing out the same old arguments. It creates space for you and your partner to see what else you could say, do, or choose that might create a better outcome for you both. You can also think of it this way: No question = no change.
No one has the perfect partner or is the perfect partner. In a conscious relationship, being perfect is not part of the criteria. This does not mean that from now on you have to be OK with everything about your partner. It means that when something comes up in your relationship, instead of reacting—in anger or frustration by withdrawing, judging yourself or your partner, or mentally galvanizing yourself for the fight or fallout—you can stop and ask yourself to consider a different possibility and a different choice.
A question empowers you to create change while judgment will always get you the same results as before.
2. Look for practical solutions.
I have a friend who squeezes his toothpaste carefully from the bottom of the tube. His wife squeezed it from the middle. It drove him crazy. He kept telling himself, “It’s so trivial, it doesn’t matter,” but eventually he exploded and yelled, “Why can’t you just squeeze from the bottom?!” It took him 10 years of marriage and an outburst to realize that there is a very practical solution: two tubes of toothpaste.
Don’t let resentment build when there could be a very simple solution. Look for the practical options you have. Being different and having different requirements does not mean you are incompatible or that one of you has to sacrifice what works for you to make the other happy. Look at the situation and ask, “What is the most practical choice we can make here so that it works for both of us?”
3. Increase the gratitude.
Relationships are far more joyful when they are based on gratitude rather than judgment. Gratitude is a powerful antidote to judgment. You may have noticed that when your partner is grateful for you, it becomes a lot easier to see what you are grateful for in them; the upsets seem less significant and your regard and caring for each other has space to grow. Gratitude begets gratitude.
Ask yourself daily: What are you grateful for in your partner? What are you grateful for about you? What are you grateful for that you have created together? When your gratitude becomes more valuable than the judgment, that is consciousness at play.
Consciousness is not about getting things right in your life. It’s about stepping out of the need to judge what is right and wrong. It is going beyond that polarized way of functioning to seek a different possibility—one where you never have to judge you, your relationship or anything else, and where you actually get to enjoy it all.
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