7 Relationship Lessons I have Learned after Years of Client Sessions
I did not study or specialize in romantic relationships or couples therapy. I also didn’t set out to look after and support so many people going through relationship issues. However, I do have a deep love for helping other people work through their hard times, their emotional disturbances and to come back to full power, And, let’s face it, the things that set us most off course are OTHER people and especially LOVERS. They have the innate ability to lift our spirits up and also screw with our head space.
I'm going to share the seven (7) things that I think are important to remember when you're in a romantic relationship with someone else, and these are all based on live sessions and learnings throughout that time.
So, here goes my top seven:
- You are not responsible for your partner's feelings.
Now, that's a very different statement to, "I don't care about them." Of course, we care about the impact that we have on our partners. That's really important. It's about being kind and generous and loving. However, we are not responsible for how they feel or to organize their feelings for them when we mention something challenging. If we mention a topic and they're uncomfortable, we're not supposed to hold that for them. In fact, holding your partner's feelings for them is denying them their own learning and their own karmic lessons.
We have three layers of thinking in terms of feeling for someone. We have sympathy, empathy, and we have compassion.
Sympathy says, "I feel sorry for you."
Empathy says, "I feel sorry for you.",
And compassion says, "I hold you with love and care but I don't take on your stuff."
So, sympathy and empathy aren't useful because sympathy and empathy buy into that you have to hold someone else's feeling and bear the pain on their behalf. That is never the case. Therefore we need to jump back to compassion, which says, "I'll hold you, I'll love you, I'll support you, but I am not responsible for your feelings."
That's the first lesson we really have to get. It's a tricky one because when someone's upset in our lives, we want them to feel better or a different way. The reality is we can't control it, nor should we want to, and we aren't responsible for them.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER: Where am I choosing to hold some pain/burdens/feelings for my partner and how can I hand these back delicately?
- All relationships go in cycles of up and down.
Sometimes they're more free-flowing and easy, and sometimes they're more challenged. This is the nature of the universe. Everything that has a front, has aback. It is the Yin and Yang principle. What does this mean? This means that every so often your relationship will go through what's called, a mini death. And I know that sounds like a crazy word, but a mini-death is the nature of it. It'll die in its old form or its old state. And just remember that's the nature of the universe. Nothing stays the same. Seasons change, grass grows, economies change. You'll go through a mini death, and then it will come out into what's called a rebirth; a new version of the relationship. This is a natural cycle so it's easy to be challenged and to grieve, to be upset. But we have to remember that this is a normal cyclical process. Sometimes we might need to instigate the death and rebirth ourselves before those cycles naturally fall into place.
What does this mean?
It means that before a natural death has happened when we face tension, we may need to look at the relationship, decide that the current version is outdated. So, we need to ‘death’ it off. End that version. Whether that's through ritual, through a conversation, through an agreement. The death that version. Put it into the earth and then rebirth it in a new form. Decide the new rules, the new paradigm, the new relationship. So that's really important to sometimes have an intention to do that and be proactive in doing that, rather than waiting for a natural cycle which could be quite tricky if it's spiraling downwards and may not survive the fall to the bottom.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER: What cycle am I currently in? AM a needing to death an old version and start a new cycle… or am I just in a new cycle and flowing nicely?
- Your greatest shadow needs to be held by the other person in the relationship.
Everyone has shadows, which are challenging parts of ourselves that feel ugly or undesirable. Parts that we don't like about ourselves. Your greatest shadow should be supported by your partner using their greatest gift. What that means is that, if you've got something that's a little bit dysfunctional or challenging for you, your partner should be able to hold that (be gentle with and supportive) for you and know that about you, They should NOT want to press on that button and make it worse. A clashing shadow is chaotic and unkind. These usually fail in my opinion. A clashing shadow example is this. Someone's really needy in the relationship and co-dependent and the other one is terrified of committing to it. So, they're pushing each other's buttons all the time. One's always running toward it and one's always running away from it. One feels rejected and the other stifled! What we need to be able to do is use our gift (natural talents) to hold our partner's shadow. You know that you're really well matched if your greatest talent/gift can hold/nurture the other person's dysfunction.
A good example might be my own relationship. I have a tendency to overdrive and overachieve – which means sometimes I can overwork. My partner's natural tendency is to be more playful and fun and to relax, so he's always pulling me back toward a more relaxed state. And his shadow is procrastinating (playfully) and not getting enough critical things done. So, by doing personality always holds his shadow and pulls him toward maybe being more organized, without berating him for that. Now, that works for us because he loves that I'm driven and I love that he is playful and when you work nicely together with that, that can work. If I were to be constantly over-driving him to do stuff (getting annoyed when he doesn’t), and not appreciating his funster side – then that’s NOT holding him properly.
Another example would be if someone has some sort of self-esteem issue or doesn't feel great about themselves, and the other person is all about support and lovingness and holding unconditional love and support; then that's also and complementary partnership… that person gift is able to heal/accept a partner’s vulnerability.
Your greatest shadow should be held by your partner's greatest gift and vice versa. If it isn’t, then tensions arise and brew…
QUESTION TO CONSIDER: What shadow does my partner have and how do I hold him/her?
- We're all entitled to private thoughts.
Now, this is an interesting one. We don't have to share every single thought we have with our partners. It's obviously good to be honest about our actions, what we do and what we say to be transparent. However, you are allowed to think your own thoughts.
You are allowed to have your own private inner world with ideas and emotions. Everyone has a right to have their own private inner world and inner thoughts. So, you need to understand and respect that.
When you're in a relationship, they don't own all of your mind, all of your thoughts, all of your heart, and everything. You still are your own individual being. Nobody can truly control you as that requires your permission to give them the INNER key to your mind.
There is never a time or a situation to give that key away as it is your birthright. The extension of this concept is covered in the following point, number 5.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER: Have I given away my rights to privacy? Do I have access to my own rich inner world to explore just for me?
- Own your right to be an INDIVIDUAL As individual spirits, we need to ensure that individuals in a relationship maintain their identity and their power as an individual, versus the couple.
There are really three parties in a relationship. There's each individual, that's two parties, and the middle party, which is the relationship where you both cross over. It's really important to realise that I have my own life, my own talents, my own work, my own ideas. And whilst many of those things are done in partnership, there's a lot that should be done either solo or with friends or outside that relationship.
It's healthy to have a rich life that doesn't just rely on that one person because that becomes quite co-dependent. You know that you're in a relationship that is co-dependent when your partner doesn't want to do anything outside of you or wants you to do everything with them. It's really important to maintain that individual identity, knowing that you're coming in and out of that relationship and feeding that relationship, but you're also feeding yourself.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER: Do I have enough interests, friends, hobbies outside my relationship that feed me? Where in my life am I independent of my partner?
- Let go of ‘old’ hurts.
If you hold on to bitter or resentful feelings about a past event or conversation, the only person that you really hurt is yourself. When things get built up and you start to get caught up in something that's happened or an event or a situation or a feeling; it's really important to have your own process of letting that go so it doesn’t stick to you. Whether that's a burning ceremony, writing it down, talking it through, screaming it out, breathing it out, or dancing it out - don't hold on to old hurts.
All they do is grow in life form and energy and they become bigger until they want to get fed, so they start to magnetically attract the same thing to keep alive and to stay fed. If something's upsetting you (regardless of the effect on the other person), even if you feel like they've done this to you, the onus is on you to clear it up. You're the only one that can pick off that scab, clear it up, and just get going.
Don't let someone else have the power over solving it for you. If you need them to make you ok, you have lost already. Nobody can make you ok, except you. You're the master of your destiny. You have to solve your own hurts. And if it's such a big hurt that you can't move on, then you always have an option to leave. If they are seriously unkind jerks... leave them.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER: What old hurts are you storing within you that bubble up regularly? Where are you giving your power away to another waiting for them to apologise or endorse you?
- Love is not enough.
Now, that's a pretty contradictory thing to say, right? But what I mean by that is, after seeing lots of people in relationships, pure love isn't enough. You have to also be able to live amicably and peacefully with someone. You can love someone and have a passionate fire in your belly and love them with this weird, insane kind of energy that defies logic, but to live peacefully and harmonically in a relationship under one roof, that is needed for a healthy partnership. It's about how you live together, how you match together, and how you amicably do life. Because unless you want a chaotic, non-calm life where it's kind of constantly tense and difficult, even with those bursts of passion in between, it is the in-between moments that build on love and trust and connection.
These in-between moments create all those beautiful smooth flowing times that you have together.
Passionate love is just a component. So, if you don't have smooth flowing times together in between those bursts of passion, then the relationship will disintegrate over time. Work out a way to live fluidly and amicably and sometimes you might decide that no matter how much you have a fire in your belly for someone, the living arrangement is too complex and challenging to live life peacefully together. And let's face it, we want a peaceful mind, loving heart, and physical safety in our relationship. You work out whether you have the love and the amicable living arrangement or not. And if you're not living together then when you do, let's see what happens.
QUESTION TO CONSIDER: Do you have BOTH passionate loves and also amicable living arrangements that support the growth of the relationship? Which one is stronger for you?
Those are the seven relationship lessons that I think are important to remember and know when connecting as a lover in this lifetime. I hope that's helped and they make sense. If you've got any questions, please get in touch and I would be happy to chat further. - Debbie Pask
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