Friday, August 25, 2017

How to Have a Great Relationship

Have you experienced disappointment in any of your relationships? I certainly have, and on more than one occasion. Given the demands we place on relationships, pain and suffering are inevitable. We get into relationships to gain something or to benefit, only to find that relationships can't offer a permanent fix to our hungry souls.
Frequently, there's an inner desperation, one that we don't know we have, that slithers its way into our primary love relationship. We go into a relationship during our finest hour, only to lose our brilliance once the clock strikes 12. We put on a show for about six weeks, then revert to our self-centered, got-to-get-more of something mode, must have a better version of something, or a different version of something from this relationship. We try to get our partner to change, to fit our model of how things should be, and if the relationship endures, we go to work on it. We accentuate the pain as the pleasure recedes beyond our reach.

Relationships do not work when they are applied as a bandage to life. They can only add richness when we are already full. Relationships  are the dessert of life; they can never be the main course.

How do relationships get this way? What makes relationship failure a pandemic disease? Hold on to your ego; the following might be distressful. We suffer because we foster multiple relationship illusions. We take the Daffy Duck approach with our significant others. Remember Daffy? He was one of the first animated characters that showed up and acted like a screwball! When we believe the following ideas, we get screwball results:
  • We must belong to be happy.
  • We must have a mate to be a success as a person.
  • Getting married brings safety and a sense of belonging.
  • Someone must love us or we can't be happy.
  • We cannot be happy without a significant other.
  • Single people are sad and to be pitied.
  • People will stay, and if they don't, we have the right to feel abandoned. (Maybe they will stay, but not all the time. They divorce us, die, and emotionally check out.)
  • The romance lasts forever. The chills and thrills are required, and if they are gone, something is wrong.
We experience a diminished interest in our relationship when we see our beloved cannot fill enough soul holes. Once we see the illusion, that relationships will not fulfill our fantasies on a permanent basis, we try to find another way to realize our illusions. Maybe we go on to the next partner. We might have an affair. We may emotionally block out our partner and pursue other means of fulfillment, such as work or a hobby.

Hopefully at some point we figure it out. We've been looking for love in all the wrong places. We have been looking at love in false concepts and beliefs. We place our salvation (happiness) in the hands of another person. This is the worst place to put it. Our happiness and well-being belong to us, not to others.

When we get to the end of the relationship road, it's time to go where fulfillment lies, and, if we are sensible, we will start that inner journey. It seems simple, but few people are willing to give up delusional thinking. The mind believes that without this self-defining thinking, it (the mind) would be left in an endless void. The mind cannot deal with the angst of losing its limiting concepts. These limiting concepts define our minds and what we believe to be our selves.

When wisdom dawns, we find that the mind exists only as the concepts it holds. The mind as we know it consists of limited viewpoints, memories, and future projects. Emotions work symbiotically with mind to create the entity we call ourselves. We further limit this self-constructed entity by believing that it is a body. Even though bodies and complex belief systems give us a point of reference for reality, they are merely a limited viewpoint. The less we identify with the mind and body, as who we are, the freer we become and the more we experience reality as it is. The experience of reality is different than the second-hand version we define and refine to fit our beliefs.

There's an old tale whose point illustrates our unwillingness to look inside for our divinity. We prefer our souped up version of reality. Our version of life is exciting and full of purpose, even if the purpose is only to get out of the dramatic situations we create! What we fail to see is that our divinity is our identity, and until we know this and live from our divinity, our relationships are doomed.

So rather than studying relationship techniques and trying to get our significant others to give us what we need, we would be better served to spend our time practicing the Presence. Home work is the practice that teaches school children certain skills. We take time to practice the guitar. People take golf lessons and play round after round of golf. The more practice one gets, the more proficient s/he becomes at golf. Do we practice the presence of our divinity? And if not, why not?

Don't answer that last question. Looking at the problem can release us, but too often it sends the mind spinning and lands it in another useless intellectual pursuit. It's simple. Practice going to the center of who you are as frequently as you think of it and put as much silence in your mind as you can. This practice takes on a life of its on, and as our awareness expands into the Stillness, we lose our need for external fixes. The sweetness of the inner world calls us to this Radical Presence, and when it does, our relationships become the dessert of our lives. We get to enjoy them rather than place demands on them. We get to have fun in our relationships rather than having to control them. We get to experience freedom rather than the feeling of being trapped. We get to feel okay, whether we are with our significant other or not. When we practice the Presence, we discover our identity as divinity, and the need to strive disappears.

Practicing the Presence is the easiest way to bypass the multiple avenues of relationship distress and to come into the joy of being. Good relationships are the byproduct of our inner divinity and inner joy; they are not our reason to live nor the cause of our happiness.

Let's give up our need to find a partner, fix a partner, or get rid of a partner. None of these actions will deliver what we need. But practicing the Presence will deliver the fulfillment we seek. Try it and you will find that your life becomes EZier and EZier.