We all seem to crave an authentic relationship but when it comes down to real life, reality might present itself differently. How can we build an authentic and evolutionary kind of relationship? Most of us have been raised with the idea that our partner should complete us, that they should be a soul mate, one who will bring us wholeness — but is that true?
As we spend more time with a partner, the perfect image of the one we have chosen starts to fade away. With time we start engaging in fights where “dark parts” of ourselves — our shadow self, as psychiatrist Carl Jung named it — start to reveal themselves. The misconception that our partner is our perfect match dissolves and most of the time we carry on relating to the illusory image we have created, instead of connecting to the real human being in front of us.
Feelings of frustration from both sides arise and we distance ourselves until one day we wake up to someone we hardly know.
We lose the chance for real connection.
So how can we relate to the person in front of us and not the projection we might have built?
“ In relationships, better to give somebody the space to be who they need to be, and use whatever is abrasive as work on yourself. Work to keep your heart open with them just as they are. That way you become an environment in which they can change if they are ready to. If your heart closes down when they are who they are, that’s called conditional love, and that keeps them locked in that form. “
model of relationships most of us have been raised to believe in is based on an individualistic ideal. A model of power, of competition, which in the long run, is damaging.
During heated times, we tend to experience our relationships as a dispute: who being above whom.
We forget that we are IN the relationship and not out or above it. You are a team, both working together.
I will not say it is easy, but it is doable. With practice, patience and self-compassion.
Share your emotions — share your partner’s emotions.
Show yourself as who you truly are — express your fears — BE vulnerable. I am not saying let a partner take advantage of you or to put yourself in a victim’s place, but don’t be the one building the wall.
Instead, invite your partner into your world, even if it is a dark one.
Like the saying from Mahatma Gandhi, that “you must be the change you wish to see in the world “ , you must be the change you wish to see in your relationship.
I practice saying to my partner how my inner child feels so he can feel me, he can understand me and we can both get closer instead of distancing ourselves. “When you say this or when you do this, I get triggered, and my inner child wants to fight, to be right, and feel safe. I am afraid.”
Therefore start practicing opening up. Bit by bit, let yourself, the mature centered adult talk about its wounded inner emotions.
It takes courage but remember the person in front of you is not your enemy, but your partner.
Remember that when you enter an argument with you partner, chances are that you are triggered. At that moment you are no longer one in a relationship, but two in a room. Trauma comes from separation (the need you had to detach to survive the past situation), and now you are reliving it.
So as soon as you understand what is happening, come closer and unify — go back into being one.
Sometimes I need to excuse myself from the discussion, because I can sense I am losing control of myself, distancing myself from him, some other times I can calmly express myself. But in both cases I try not to harm the relationship because of my own inner state. The same is true for my partner. Therefore, pay attention to how you react and behave when you are triggered by your partner.
The practice of mindfulness can be of great help. When meditating you are told to pay attention to your breath and if at any time any thoughts arise, just acknowledge them and go back to your breath. That’s the crucial point — being aware of what is happening and directing your attention towards it.
I find it very helpful to, as soon as I feel my body contracting, to engage with my surroundings. Use your senses and perceive the environment and your breathe. They are great tools to bring your awareness back into the present moment, the reality.
Ask yourself when starting to feel triggered.
- If this was the last time we were to be together, would this argument matter?
- Am I talking from a place of love or fear?
- How would I feel if I could, as a witness, see myself talking?
A lot of inner growth can help once you use that space for self-awareness, growth of the relationship but also inner-growth.
And If you and your partner, can both grow and join your emotions together, you will find a new way to relate.
Understand how together you can both service the relationship.
And because our traumas become a filter in our perception of the world, once we start healing, we start opening curtains and a new vision of the world emerges.
Every time your vision is layered by traumas, you are not relating to the real person in front of you.
As you heal, you will be aware of who your partner truly is.
The foundation of work here is vulnerability, compassion, and connection.
Love is giving yourself to the other, naked and vulnerable — showing all your parts and having he/she welcoming them, with openness and kindness.
But Just like our muscles need training, so do our relationships.
Here are a few suggestions that have proven efficient to me. Try applying them and if you feel there are more ways you can practice evolving through your relationship, give it a try.
There is no one better than yourself to know what you need to heal.
Kids, friends, jobs, and relatives. We tend to forget our relationships need attention and care. So, …
- Spare weekly time for the relationship.
- Use it to communicate.
- Talk about yourself, your feelings, and open up.
- Listen, with presence, to your partner.
- Do an emotional check-in and move afresh from there.
We are building a new self at every moment. Don’t fool yourself into believing your partner will always be the same.
- Welcome their changes.
- Get curious about them.
- Look at them with fresh eyes.
Be brave enough to tell each other the truth. It might get uncomfortable for a while, but that’s how you build intimacy.
A relationship happens moment by moment, and its outcome is all about how the two of you handle it.
Leave your ego at the door.
Stand from a place of love, not fear.
Your partner is not my enemy; you are both responsible for the relationship.
Hello dear readers.
I am a self-awareness and transformational coach. Based on my life experiences and studies, I help individuals to reconnect with their hearts and souls, bringing meaning and purpose into their lives. Differently than most goal-orientated coaching sessions, my work consists of intuitive listening with a mix of different techniques and tools, such as Systemic Constellations, allowing new answers and perspectives to surface and transformation to occur. Sign up here and get my free eBook on how relationships can help us through that process.
This post was previously published on medium.com.
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