Image / Romolo Tavani
The connections which infuse our lives with joy, meaning, opportunity and growth are themselves living and changing things. When alive, no relationship will remain static and frozen. All of our relationships shift, end, morph, or reconfigure over time. Because we do.
If we're attached to experiencing a specific dynamic with someone in our lives, we're less likely to see the natural shifts when they happen at their most subtle level. Ignoring the reality of change, and ignoring the need for changes in behavior on our part, will begin to cause friction. Discomfort will arise, initially in soft form. The more it's ignored, the more it grows, and the less subtle the signals will become. The discomfort will grow a hard edge.
We have some choice in how long we wait to listen to reality, and sometimes we wait until pain makes the need for change very clear to us. Pain is a signal that something needs to change. This is true of pain in the body, mind, and heart. Our pain (which we can see as a spectrum ranging from minor discomfort to extreme agony) is a message that says "this needs your attention!".
When pain arises, we can react mindlessly - often we throw our pain back onto the other or onto others in the greater world. But we have other options, and they're more likely to help us move out of pain by addressing what genuinely needs our attention. When we feel discomfort in our connection with another, we can pause, reflect, and offer attention to needs:
How is the other showing up in this relationship, and what are their real needs?
How are we showing up in this relationship, and what are our real needs?
Is there equity in the dynamic, or is one person consistently giving too much?
Have we taken advantage of another? Is there something we need to address, apologize for, or take responsibility for, in order to establish trust, goodwill, and open communication?
Have we allowed ourselves to be taken advantage of in some way? If so, why? What did we trade in our attempts to get our needs met from inappropriate sources?
What specific needs of ours are not being met within this relationship in it's current form?
Is there a better place for us to meet those needs, or to seek that kind of support?
Is this a relationship that has run its course? Does discomfort stem from trying to force the past onto the present?
Is this a relationship that simply needs to allow a natural shift in it's dynamic? Do we simply need new rules of play?
Taking time to sit with these and similar questions honestly can give us insight into the discomfort we're experiencing. And once we're clear, we can make changes. Perhaps we simply need to change our behavior quietly, and allow those changes to inform the direction this relationship can grow, change or dissolve. Perhaps we need to have a direct conversation with the other, from our place of calm clarity about our needs and desires. The form of this relationship, it's history, it's level of intimacy, and our intuition can guide us on which approach is most beneficial in this regard.
In either case, this act of offering of kindness and reflection and clarity to ourselves creates the foundation from which we move toward another, or not. That's work they cannot do for us, and asking them to manage or care for feelings which we're unwilling to work with in ourselves is a sure way to create further imbalance in our connection. So we look, and we listen, and we let ourselves feel and see what is true. And we wait until that happens before we speak. And when we do speak, we speak honestly, allowing the outcome to be what it will be. The payoff? Well, it's in having a life full of relationships that are alive, breathing, honest, growing and growth-producing. What a gift.
Dana Wyss Healing Arts
Breathe deeply, practice often, be well.