13 Aug Improving Your Relationships – Relationship Dynamics From a Spiritual Perspective – Part I
"Love is everything. It is the key to life, and its influences are those that move the world."
-Ralph Waldo Trine
"Interdependence is and ought to be as much the ideal of man as self-sufficiency. Man is a social being."
-Mohandas K. Gandhi
My Integrative Intuitive Counseling work with clients over the past fifteen-plus years has given me the bird's-eye view of relationships and the dynamics involved in them from an energetic point of view.
One of the areas in which I had early glimpses of these realizations and lessons in energy is that of relationships, especially romantic relationships. It goes without saying that relationships are very important to most of us and represent an extremely important aspect of our human experience, as Trine and Gandhi above so articulately expressed it. So of course most clients will want information on this area of their lives.
I've looked at many, many relationships over the past several years, including those a client was involved in at the time of a session, those from a client's past, and future relationships. I've also looked at nonromantic relationships, including those with friends, parents, children, other family members, work colleagues, etc. I have increasingly gained insight into how relationships work (and why they do work at times and often do not work) and what the causative or contributing factors to the dynamics operative in this aspect of our lives may be. Over time, I gradually saw several factors that I feel influence the dynamics and viability of relationships.
Resonance of Energies
"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances: if there is any reaction, both are transformed."
"Relationships are like a dance, with visible energy racing back and forth between partners."
Early on in looking at romantic relationships I was primarily sensing how people's energies resonated – or didn't resonate well – and how that energetic resonance between the two of them affected both the dynamics of the relationship and the positive or negative aspects of what the people in the relationship were experiencing. Some people energies resonated quite well. Other people's energies quite simply abraded.
For example, I've seen relationships in which one person's energy was overwhelming the other's energy. This often leads to the latter person feeling overwhelmed and powerless or constrained, certainly not a pleasant way to feel in a relationship. I've also seen relationships in which one person's energy is warm and expansive and the other person's energy is cooler or indifferent and / or contracted or narrow. This is also not a good interaction of energies. As telling as these dynamics of energy resonances were, I came to learn in time, however, that there were factors involved other than just the resonance of energies that contributed to whether relationships were good, workable, or true partners or "soul mates."
"How savage is love that plants a flower and uproots a field; that revives us for a day and stuns us for an age!"
I soon came to see how people's inauthentic stuff – their issues – affected the dynamics in a relationship. Because the inauthentic overlay contributes to and affects one's general energy, this inauthentic stuff will often be part of what is resonating (or abrading) between two people's energies.
Often the pull between two people will be their "stuff" resonating, rather than who they really are. For example, one of the more common manifestations of this type of resonance occurs when a dependent person who may also be sensitive emotionally and / or come from some sort of abusive background is romantically involved with someone with strong and controlling energy; or when one person who is open emotionally and needs to connect and communicate openly with his / her partner is involved with someone who is closed down or withdrawn emotionally and thus neither available emotionally nor oriented towards truly openly connecting with someone. I have seen instances in which two people's "stuff" is so complex and mutually resonating that they appear to fit together like a complex system of reciprocal keys fitting into each other's locks. Often a condition of button-pushing and / or mutual interdependence in an unhealthy manner results from this type of resonance. (Hence, the term codependence.) Relationships of this type often exemplify a mixture of contradictory energies; they may be love / hate relationships or be full of volatility – and are rarely "clear sailing." They are also frequently quite painful and can be emotionally draining.
This type of relationship, that is based on the inauthentic stuff resonating is often, as you may suspect, doomed to failure. I have seen many clients who were in this type of relationship and who may have stuck it out for years because they have both resistance to and inertia over getting out of the situation. Other clients may extricate themselves in a shorter period of time. If, how, and when these relationships are resolved is usually a function of the individual's process and growth and his / her readiness for or resistance to change.
Usually when the decision is made to leave the relationship, it is because the person initiating that change has grown personally to the point where the personal lessons from the relationship are learned and the relationship no longer serves a purpose or feels the same. In other words, the resonance is no longer there. (This latter instance is representative of the common phenomenon that, as we learn and grow, we may grow past the people we've been close to, if they are not also evolving and growing. Kristen Zambucka described this phenomenon when she stated that, "We outgrow people, places, and things as we unfold. We may be saddened when old friends say their piece and leave our lives … but let them go. They were at a different stage and looking in a different direction." can be disconcerting to us, especially if we don't realize that, if our energies are no longer resonating, any former feeling of closeness usually evaporates – and if we further don't realize that this "changing of partners" is indicative of something positive in us, ie, our personal growth.)
Over time and through repeatedly seeing a number of this type of relationship, I came to realize that these relationships that are based on the partners' inauthentic stuff resonating are what I now call learning relationships. In other words, we often enter into some relationships primarily to learn and grow by working on our inauthentic stuff, and this purpose of learning tends to be the primary raison d'être for this type of relationship. This is distinguished from the soul mate or partner relationship in which we may be stimulating each other's growth, but it's not the sole purpose for the relationship.
The positive aspect of learning relationships is that they are often a wonderful catalyst for our growth. Each learning relationship tends to be centered around healing or reworking one or more aspects of our stuff. Put another way, "Each relationship nurtures a strength or weakness within you" (Mike Murdock). And, usually, until we work on whatever the relationship is trying to teach us and we "get" it, we are doomed to keep repeating the lesson; that is, we can have a pattern of serially entering into similar relationships. Recognizing that we have a pattern in relationships can give us the key to realizing that there is something in ourselves to work on. "To understand is to perceive patterns," Isaiah Berlin wrote – including our own patterns.
If, instead, we don't recognize that there is something to work on in ourselves we may stay stuck in the pattern for a more prolonged period of time. Often we will then project our unhappiness and blame externally and decry all men or all women as being "worthless," "unavailable," etc. – until we learn to figuratively point that finger back towards ourselves and look within to see what we need to work on or change in ourselves. "Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves" (Jung). Or, as Molière wrote, "One should examine oneself for a long time before thinking of condemning others."
A variation on this theme of projection and blame centers around those people who are "rescuers." Rescuers (not an essence type) are often soft-hearted people who are perpetually trying to help and rescue others, sometimes to the extent that they actually believe that that is one of their purposes in life. As with those who project their own stuff outwardly and blame others and things outside of themselves, rescuers often need to figuratively point their fingers back at themselves and look within for what they need to rescue in themselves. A pattern of needing to rescue others often serves to deflect one's attention from his / her own stuff and what he / she needs to work on within him / herself. As Aldous Huxley wrote, "There is only one corner of the universe you can be certain of improving and that's your own self."
Learning relationships, especially those that engage us emotionally in an intense manner, are a strong mechanism by which we can evolve, as we are stimulated more – through the power of emotion – by these often difficult and / or painful relationship experiences. I myself gained a major lesson in self-esteem through a relationship that was dysfunctional and quite difficult. However, the lesson was extremely valuable and was permanently gained – and, indeed, may have been all the more permanently etched in me due to the extent of the difficulty and emotional struggle I went through.
What we stand to gain from relationships such as these will vary from one person to the next and can run the gamut from learning self-esteem, to becoming less passive and dependent, to learning to be more emotionally available, to being more caring, to being less self-absorbed – or even to become more discerning about relationships. The lessons can be quite diverse. However, one theme running through these learning relationships is that the universe is drawing attention to our inauthentic "stuff" that keeps us from being who we really are and is asking us to work on it. Not everyone, of course, will work on all, or even any, of his / her stuff in a lifetime because that may indeed be, as previously mentioned, what we are to experience in that lifetime – never getting back to our pure essence ( and, also as previously mentioned, not everyone will have much inauthentic stuff to work on or clear).
Interestingly, I've seen another mechanism by which these learning relationships operate and that has to do with another factor that induces the two people to be together in a relationship, other than just the resonance of the inauthentic stuff. This factor will often manifest itself as a "pull" between the two people. This pull is often experienced as a sexual attraction, but may also be experienced as a mental or psychic pull: they are just drawn to the other person for some reason and can't get that person out of his / her mind; or they are continually trying to figure the other person out. (And, yes, this can lead to obsession.)
What I have frequently seen that I find fascinating is that often when the lesson that was a major raison d'être for the relationship is finally learned, the pull between the two of them – sexual attraction, mental conundrum, obsession, or whatever – just disappears as if by magic. I regard this "pull," however it is expressed and experienced, as a device used by the universe to get us to learn a lesson (by getting us into the relationship that will teach us the lesson). Such an interesting and creative device!
(Excerpted from "Invisible Blueprints")