Growth hacking: Sometimes you have to reboot and refresh in order to handle your partner’s personal growth.
My partner is changing – every day. This is challenging for me at times as I would prefer her to be consistent in her personality and therefore predictable. My wife is a fascinating person. She is one of the most disciplined people I know. I suppose, this comes from her years as a professional dancer. To this day she gets up every morning and does her exercises. Part of her routine is spiritual development and self-growth. She is constantly reading esoteric works and watching videos of spiritual masters.
The problem, or should I say challenge, is that she takes this information to heart and makes active efforts to change how she interacts with the world. I am part of her world. Thus, I can no longer assume how she will respond to anything – even me. This forces me to be in the moment. Eckhart Tolle would be happy. Me, not so much.
OK, intellectually I know this is a good thing but in the moment it can be anything from confusing, to funny, or it can get me mighty pissed off. Furthermore, she is constantly evolving (the nerve) and I feel pressed to respond in a real way; and through her ongoing development I get to see my own limitations and lack of focus in this area.
We have a joke going where she says that I focus on my career and get the Coles notes version of spiritual growth through her. I have come to the place where I appreciate what she is doing for herself and how it benefits me, not only in expanding my awareness, but also in how she changes her behavior towards me.
My wife is more loving, open, funnier, demanding, and engages me dynamically and with fearlessness. Even our sex life has improved. What scares me the most though, is that she has awakened within me a desire to take time for my own spiritual development. What does this mean?
My life has had three areas of focus: relationship, sport/exercise, and business/teaching. My work revolves around helping people in extreme emotional pain lead a better and happier lives. It is so important to me at deep level that I work pro bono at times and work at a not-for-profit agency that doesn’t pay great, but the work is too rewarding to leave. Making a difference is not only important, it feels great.
I suppose, my therapeutic work is the good I do in the world. But as you may have noticed, there was nothing on the spiritual front when looking at my life’s focus. My partner’s personal development has re-kindled an old ember that has been smoldering within me for decades. It will be interesting to see what I do with this emerging conflagration.
Speaking of fires, as my wife refreshes aspects of her personality on a regular basis, I sometimes feel like I am working on an older computer operating system with the commensurate glitches and incompatibilities that arise in this situation.
My wife provided clarity for me when we were discussing Thomas Hubl’s take on how people interact in relationship. He talks about how, when in conversation, we try to maneuver our partner into a way of being that is comfortable for us.
In other words, we are upset when our partner’s do not conform, in whatever they are doing, being, or thinking. It goes against our comfort level.
It would appear that I was, unconsciously (I hope), trying to manoeuvre my wife away from her growth seeking activities, or at least slow them down, as I was having difficulty keeping up with her. I would do this by challenging the rationality of the people she was studying, asking for empirical evidence, or just sighing and looking skeptical What was I afraid of?
It is so much easier when people stay the same. You can predict their responses to a given situation, whether the stimulus emanates from the outside environment or from within. You know how they will respond when you ask them to do something, or go somewhere, or act in a certain way. All predictable and comfortable (even their anger, if predictable, has a known quality about it and therefore not as threatening).
Looking a bit deeper, I have a fear that my wife might get taken away by a guru and leave. I saw a former partner become involved with the Hare Krishna’s and leave everything behind to join them. So I know first-hand that it can happen.
At a more surface level, it takes up time. She reads a lot, writes, and lately, watches videos online. Her counter to my complaint about how much time this consumes is that I now know what it is like, as I watch business teleseminars frequently. Good point.
Change. I guess just dealing with change is uncomfortable. It is destabilizing and takes effort. And yet, the old adage that the only constant in life is change, comes to mind. Some part of me resists change as if it is a personal affront or something. Like, I have it all figured out and when I am confronted with this new state of affairs I have to re-calibrate how I see this person, or, as in the title, hit the refresh button.
Maybe that is how I should look at it. Not as a threat, but merely as a simple act of hitting the internal refresh button of my mind. Taking in the new data without resistance, adding more RAM if necessary, and then rebooting and computing my environment with new alacrity. After all, it’s just information.
Photo: Flickr/Dmitry Ryzhkov