I feel so strongly about the subject of conscious relationships because a lot stress comes from not knowing how to consciously relate. If you think about it, the bulk of our trauma and wounding comes from seeing our parents in difficult relationships, or experiencing mis-attunement, neglect, or other sorts of hurtful relating with our parents and caregivers. How would the world be different if our relationships were healthy, happy, and loving? Wouldn't children thrive more if they came from happy homes? I would love to see a world that is more harmonious and loving, and I believe that is something that starts within us and our relationships.
In my life, relationships have truly been one of the most challenging, if not the most challenging, aspects of my life. Because of this, I have learned a lot (and continue to learn a lot) that I want to share in hopes that it is helpful and healing for others. Some of these can also be helpful for non-romantic friendships. Here are some reflections and tips:
Love really is the answer. Whenever there is conflict, this is a chance for you to practice unconditional love. Cultivate compassion for your own suffering, and your partner's suffering. Take the lead and move into love at the end of conflict. Make love the goal of your relationship. This means you will need to let go of your ego. People think that a relationship will help build up their ego, but in order to love unconditionally we actually have to let go of it, little by little. Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it. — Rumi . Relax your ego and open into love. Essentially the rest of the tips below are ways to allow more love into your relationship.
Take time to heal your wounding, rather than expecting your partner to heal it for you. Often we subconsciously or consciously think about our partner as someone who must be there to meet all of our needs and heal us. This is because we are projecting the unmet needs from our childhood onto our partner. We may strongly believe that they need to meet certain needs, but they are just human and when they can't meet our needs we need to find ways to meet them with our own love, or with other support systems. Seeking coaching or therapy. It is a gift when our partner triggers our wounding, because then we really know what we need to work on.
Be kind. Do your best to use "I feel" statements instead of criticizing your partner. Find kind and gentle ways to say everything. You can speak assertively, but still kindly. Be mindful of what your energy, tone of voice, and body-language is conveying. Learn about non-violent communication. https://www.cnvc.org/learn-nvc/what-is-nvc
Try to see your partner's point of view. Recognize that your experience is valid, but it doesn't mean that it is the reality of what is actually happening. Your partner may be having a totally different experience. Get curious about what your partner is experiencing and try to understand it. Really understanding your partner's point of view can clear up a lot of conflict and melt both of your hearts. This is also a great way to let go of your ego.
Beginner's mind: See your partner as a mystery; suspend the belief that you know everything about your partner, even if you have known them for 50 years. Be curious about them and ask them questions. Don't assume you know what they mean when they say something, especially in an argument when it is easy to go into defenses and snap judgments.
Communicate, don't be afraid to speak up. Sometimes we also believe that our partner should be able to read our minds, or we want them to read our minds because we think if they do that is proof that they love us. But your partner is just human and can't always read your mind. It is helpful to both of you to be open and honest about what you need, what feels good, what you don't want, what you would like, how you feel, and what you are thinking. If you are holding onto resentment, that is especially important to bring out into the open with good communication.
Do not try to change your partner. They are the way they are, and that is to be loved and honored. If you want them to make changes, they will just get defensive and shut down if you point out their flaws. Do your best to accept their flaws, as well as your own flaws. If they are not the right fit for you, you can just decide to move on instead of trying to make them the right fit.
Take mindful pauses. If things are getting overwhelming and heated, you can ask your partner to "take a pause" with you. Hold hands, look into each other's eyes, and breathe deeply together. This helps you to bring tension down, relax, and attune to each other so that you don't see each other as the enemy, rather remembering that you are allies in each other's lives.
Take space from each other to digest interpersonal experiences and to reconnect with yourself. No matter how close we are we also need time apart to individually digest experiences and re-discover our center/not get lost in the other. Then we can come back with more of our personal gifts to share with our partner. We are unique, individual beings even in relationships, and the relationship becomes richer when we honor this. It is also important to take space if there is too much conflict so that we can self soothe and regulate our nervous systems, and then come back to the conflict to communicate from a new and more compassionate perspective.
Relax into love and let it flow. Let go of expectations and follow the flow of the mystery of love. Soften your hardened edges to open more deeply into love. Don't grasp, hold onto, or force. Let your partner be themselves, let your relationship shift its shape; for love to be love, it has to be free to move in whatever direction it pleases. Savor the tenderness of human connection. Recognize the impermanence of life and marvel at the fleeting preciousness of each moment together and the unique space the two of you create.
“Would you become a pilgrim on the road of love? The first condition is that you make yourself as humble as dust and ashes.” ― Rumi