Tag Archives: Relationships

Candle-3There are many of us speaking about being or about following a trend or discipline that claims to be spiritual. But, really, what is being spiritual? Is it real? Is it tangible? Is it something we can teach? Learn? Pass on to others? With so many people claiming or professing it, and in coming from so many different walks of life and disciplines, how can we really have a clear understanding of what it truly is? Or is it something that is strictly personal, innate and pertains to only that which comes from within? There seems to be no clear cut definition. Spirituality seems to be our assumed road to what we perceive as a method toward the resolution of a deeply unconscious urge for fulfillment of something that feels absent and is almost indescribable. Let’s look at some of the more commonly assumed versions and characteristics of it so you can have clarity in determining what it is for yourself.

First, I would suggest that most of us would essentially agree that spirituality is mostly an intangible idea, although, many of its applications, if we can call them as such, are tangible in nature. Their effects are assumed to encourage adjustments to our behavior for specific results in the way that we live our lives in the tangible world. But that sense of intangibility comes from a source deeper and mostly undefined within us, especially, since most of our attention goes toward more clearly defined surface issues like our survival and what we exchange with others. But once those surface issues have been sufficiently handled, there surfaces a gnawing feeling within us that says it just isn’t enough. Something still remains unanswered and unfulfilled. It’s then that we start looking toward the less tangible currents that feed our feeling, that is, if we’re mature enough to accept what we’re feeling. Those of us who are not end up pursuing a more intense versions of the same physical stimulus just to break the perceived barrier between us and our idea of ecstasy, thereby, keeping its access within our perceived control.

Director-2There are those of us who interpret spirituality as relating to an imagined deity who is assumed to have initiated and administers the physical world we find ourselves living in. In that belief there is an underlying and unconscious assumption that our existence and movements are all observed and controlled by this deity making them eminently more accountable than we for our existence and actions. Believing in this deity, essentially, eliminates our need for looking any further for understandings and insights about the reason for our “being here” let alone being responsible for our existence. The emptiness or unanswered urges are just accepted by us as being unknown to us and only known to that deity and under the charge and wisdom we’ve assigned to them.

I believe that for the rest of us this unanswered and unfulfilled part of us acts as the driving force to find that something that we feel is missing.  The different methods that we use to pursue fulfillment to that end we often make and then call a spiritual tradition. It can appear in the form of religion, extreme sensory oriented stimulation or an intangible and practicable discipline either devoid of or with a creator and administrator at the peak of our intended accomplishments within the discipline.

The urge to connect with a creator or deity through religious disciplines is not the only version of our seeking the fulfillment from outside of ourselves by virtue on another entity. I believe that the subconscious urge we feel can also come from a source we can call a belief in ancient aliens seeding our planet. A general version of the story goes like this. Millions of years ago aliens came to this planet in search of the commodities that supported their way of life including the mining of minerals. We as an ignorant and more immature species were transported with them as workers to perform the physical labor. When the acquisition of what they needed was completed, their cargo would be substituted for us leaving us to dwell here on Alien DNAthe planet after they left. It is said that we also were used for DNA experiments leading to producing different variations of our life form. Those who believe this have even gone so far as to state that Noah’s ark was actually a DNA bank constructed so they may collect their successful experiments and wipe the face of the earth of their completed or no longer viable experiment (us) with a flood so they might start over. A few of us still survived implanted with a deep racial memory of wishing to return to our home. It is believed that our unconscious urge for the unanswered fulfillment within us is that wish and that the tendency to believe in an external deity is an extension of worshipping those who brought us here. Since there was more than one alien, this may also account for cultures who support a belief in multiple gods. The urge to go home can also be viewed as our wish to return to what we now interpret as the Garden of Eden.

Our culture has gotten so over involved in our mental functioning and so far away from acknowledging and following our inner feelings that our quest for fulfilling this almost indescribable urge has been becoming harder and harder to express, recognize and “put our finger on” let alone find terms that can bring us a clear explanation of what it is that we’re actually dealing with. The urge is simple. But we’ve made working it into an understandable goal damn near impossible through relating to it almost exclusively in a mental format.

Many of these examples of addressing this inner urge have produce a vehemence, an intensity and almost a feeling of desperation in our beliefs and dedication in light of the fact that very few of us can actually conceive of any other means of answering the “void” of what we feel let Sysiphus-1alone comprehend the simplicity of what we seek. What is so ironic is that the more we focus on what it is that we don’t have (fulfillment), the more of the same the universe gives us through the Law of Attraction by virtue of what we’re focusing on. It’s like the harder and further we chase it, the faster and further it moves away. When we relax and don’t focusing on our striving, the more we emulate the earth in producing gravity that attracts toward us whatever it is that needs to be “filled in.”

All the above reasons for feeling and even understanding how to handle the void seem clear and easy enough to comprehend its dynamics. But then our psychological makeup throws us a curve ball. Now relationships enter the picture and the growing expectation that all of our voids, “missing halves” and parts will be filled and answered by the presence and actions of the other person. At this point we stop looking for answers and assume the relationship will be the answer to our prayers. The amount and degree of underlying expectations and assumptions we then make are staggering. We allow ourselves to be swept away by the belief that we will be fulfilled on all levels by the other person.

I believe that this decision is made as a result of and in the wake of our early training and fostered expectation that the world will not only dictate where our efforts should be applied for our happiness but that our desired results will also come from outside ourselves. This leaves us wide open to ignoring the fact that our own happiness is of our own doing and our own responsibility. The simple fact is that the universe answers us based on where we put our attention and our energy. So, now with our putting our energy and attention into another person, we again ignore our inner urgings in favor of our childhood trained need to belong and Blaming-1be fulfilled by the world…a promise issued by the world and our parents but impossible to be fulfilled. As we progress with our expectations, our partner is not able to fulfill our imagined and desired expectations for their behavior, let alone, have knowledge of them. In our childish state of being unaccountable, we blame our partner for our lack of happiness and fulfillment and once again slowly become aware of the pain of the rising void within us. If we are on the threshold of emotional maturity, we begin to make the connection between our accountability and our own happiness. If not, we fixate on another partner expecting the same impossible fulfillment.

If we wish to, we can view our entrainment by the world and our parents into expecting the world to answer our desires and urges as a disservice. But they are only following the natural flow of the physical world, that is, they are not only in the world but also of it. They’re doing what they we trained to do and believe also. However, if it is true that we are only in this world by virtue of our own desire to experience what it has to offer, wouldn’t it make sense to expose us to circumstances that would challenge the ease of where we resided before we came here? Wouldn’t that challenge give us something to contrast so we would know the direction to follow in order to fulfill that desired goal of having the experience? If we actually chose to come here, would religion and spirituality be aligned with that intention by fostering a need to escape back to where we came from? Is escaping back to the “Garden of Eden” in alignment with that Master Po & Kwai Changintention? I think not. I believe that our choice to come here for the experience is our original intention. I also believe that the void is also within us simply to give us a reminder of who we are and a place to return to in order to revitalize our intention. Our recurring awareness of the void within our spirituality is simply our way of reminding ourselves about what it is that we came here to do.

Attraction-bad-boy-3...is more often NOT whom you attract. Why is that? Rather than looking at our personal history and blaming our childhood for not getting or being what we want, I’m going to work backwards from examples to show you how the dynamics behind what I say are true and why. Let’s press on.

If I were to tell you that I knew of a woman who had recently just gotten out of a physically abusive relationship and I were to also tell you that she had just gotten involved in a new relationship, what would you say the odds are that she will find herself in another physically abusive relationship? Pretty likely, no? If I were to also tell you that I know of another woman who had a very alluring way with men for getting everything that she wanted and that she had just ended her latest relationship in order to start another one, wouldn’t you agree that it would be quite likely that she will have “found” another man who will give her just about anything that she wanted and when she wanted it? I’d be willing to bet a month’s salary that most of you would say yes. And what if I said the first woman was actually a man. Would he also attract an abusive woman? And if the second woman were also a man, would he also attract another woman who would give him all he wanted? Why? What inside of you would tell you that all these examples likely pose similar outcomes? Of course you’d naturally say that their track record would show that they would repeat whatever they’ve done before. Yes? Of course!

Cheating womanLet’s make our example a little more challenging by making the outcome a little subtler. Suppose you are a daughter growing up in a house where your father and brothers could never be trusted to tell the truth. We know both are possible because sons often grow up following the example of their fathers. But you grow up and finally start dating. Are you going to find that the men you attract will always tell you the truth? It’s not likely, especially, since you’ll enter into the relationships expecting a repeat of the previous experiences that you’ve had with men while presenting the same rapport and behaviors you had with your father and brothers. One last example. If you’re a young boy and you watch your mother tease men and cheat on your father incessantly, are you going to grow up trusting women, let alone, expect to find a woman who won’t run around on you? I think not. Your mother’s example has shown you what to expect in boy girl relationships and as a result, the attitude and behaviors with which you face new relationships will be with one of expecting infidelity.

Lock & KeyThe key to the above examples is that however we approach our life experiences, regardless of what we say we want, will determine who and what it is that we attract. Think about this for a moment. If our behavior toward who and what we approach is keyed to a specific type of projection or expectation, that behavior or expectation is going to attract a key that best fits the type of lock that we present to the world. If we expect someone to hurt us, odds are we will present a behavior that requires an answer that fulfills our expectation of their behavior; us being hurt. The abuser will be attracted to our expectation of it. As long as the expectation that we project is aligned with our prior experience, bingo! Instant and appropriate response. Our confusion sets in when we tell ourselves that we expect something but don’t actually feel or believe it. In psychology, this is called cognitive dissonance. This is why so many affirmations are ineffective. We don’t actually feel or believe what we say we are or want. Our prior experience has taught us that what we feel or believe is different. Are you starting to get a feel for where the disconnect happens and how it doesn’t fit with what we want?

Too busy parents who don't have time to play with their sonLet’s approach this from the other side. Suppose that you grow up in a house where you feel that no one listens to you, no one loves you and no one goes out of their way to make you feel comfortable and wanted. Be advised that what you feel is what you ingest and retain of your experience even if the other people in the household feel that they did give you want you wanted by their standards. Based on having this feeling about yourself you venture into the world believing that you are unlovable. What kind of projection will you show the world about your belief about yourself? What kind of lock are you presenting to the world and what kind of matching key will you attract? You guessed it! Someone who doesn’t listen to you, doesn’t love you and someone who makes no effort to make you feel comfortable and wanted.

Behind youFor most of us living in this fast paced tension infused western culture we often don’t notice things unless they are what many call “in your face.” That is, we have so much going on in just trying to survive in the world that we often miss the important emotional cues in who and what we attract unless they’re starring us in the face. Is it really any wonder why this disconnect between what we say we want and actually attract goes unrealized? This is why it is so vitally important that we learn to pay more attention to what we feel about things. Additionally, and contrary to this perspective, our culture is often so preoccupied with worrying about avoiding offending someone else and with attending to how others feel and what they need that our own feelings are allowed to fall by the wayside if not get completely lost in the shuffle. In many circles it is considered an insult to others and even selfish for us to allow our feelings expression in social situations under the premise that they are an imposition for others to have to deal with. Are you starting to feel a little repressed? Good! Then it means that you’re starting to recognize the insanity contained within our emotional social dynamics. Let’s look a little more closely at what our family rearing contributes to our unrealized disconnect.

Ignored child-3If you are being raised in a family where both Mom and Dad work long hours, if not in a single parent family, how much attention are you going to learn to expect from any potential relationship if your basis for determining what you expect comes from your family example? If you receive little or no encouragement or acknowledgment for what you do or who you are as a person and, consequently, the only acknowledgment that you do receive is perceived as an over abundance of criticism or job assignments from your parents, what kind of rapport are you going to expect from someone in a new potential relationship? If every time you want something or attention from your parents and they are either always working or absorbed in their own endeavors and they tell you, “Later. I don’t have time for this (you) now,” how are you going to feel? Are you going to believe that you are lovable? Are you going to come to believe that you have self-worth? Are you going to believe that you deserve attention and love? How different is whom you say you want from whom you actually believe that you “deserve?”

Nice guys finish lastThere is a very old saying. “Nice guys (and now with unisex, girls) finish last.” There is hidden truth in this adage. It seems to me, and perhaps to many of you, that the more politely, respectably, honorably and compassionately you behave toward the opposite sex, especially if they’ve been raised in the fashion outlined above, the more it resurfaces their feelings of believing that they are unworthy, unlovable, undeserving and uninteresting. Even if they’re interested in you, by being good to them you wake up their self-consciousness about their believed shortcomings and belief about being unlovable. It seems that men and women who have been raised in an environment that supports little or no personal encouragement, love, self-value, nurturance or self-worth will grow up unconsciously seeking the same neglect in their relationships with the opposite sex simply because it’s what they’ve seen and what feels familiar to them. So now, let’s look back to abusive relationships. Why do we go back to things that hurt us? Because they’re familiar and we feel “secure” in them because that’s the only environment we know. And due to our early experiences, we’ve been trained to believe that we are undeserving of the honesty, fidelity, kindness, attentiveness and benefits that a loving, faithful, honest and enjoyable relationship could provide us with.

Too good for meSo, what are we left with? We seem to be left with a tremendous paradox. If we treat someone with love, kindness and attentiveness, those who need it most, especially if they have been raised in a difficult childhood, will shy away from us believing that they are undeserving of us and it would feel unfamiliar or even frightening to them. Left would then be those who have learned to become the abusers who will be attracted to our giving nature while feeling that we might be an easy mark for them to use and abuse.

Now, based on our rapport with our family, or lack of same, and based on the functioning theory that we attract and marry people who are very much like our parents, good and bad, who are we going to attract? Is that someone different from whom we say we want? More than likely…

Over protective parent-3It’s important to note that this type interchange occurs with us both as “givers” and “takers” as well as victims and abusers coming from similarly neglectful or abusive upbringings where we have not been allowed to become self-sufficient, trust our own judgments and have somehow become one of our parents in order to feel like we’re “on the side that winning.” Odds are, we usually become one parent and attract the “other parent” in our own relationships.

The only antidote available for us to exit this type of cycle, and we’re all guilty of participating to at least some degree, is to become whole within ourselves. Unless we have worked out our own self-worth issues, and most of us haven’t fully done so, what we say we want will almost always be different from whom we attract. Whom we feel we deserve almost always creates an Loveunconscious polarizing bringing to us someone who exemplifies what it is that we need to work on within ourselves emotionally. We cannot remedy our feelings of unworthiness or unlovability through adding someone who we believe will compensate for what we believe we lack. We must do it ourselves, first. Then, we can attract our respective equal.

Relationships-2Before talking about what destroys a relationship, perhaps we should talk about what a relationship is and what makes to a good one. I think it’s safe to say that as we grow into childhood we all want love, acceptance and nurturance. As we grow into adulthood, acknowledgement, approval, respect and to be listened to are added to the mix. Of course we know that many of us grow up missing some of those qualities in the way we’re raised whether our parents neglected to use or teach them to us or whether they never experienced them or knew enough themselves to realize that they, let alone we, needed to use and learn them too. So it’s safe to say that most of us grow up with “gaps” in what we can use to respond well within a relationship. These gaps are probably what are responsible for us have difficulty in “relating.” I think it’s also safe to say that at least 99% of us want at least one “meaningful” relationship if not many.

So, what is a relationship? It’s just that; someone we can relate to. As the risk of being dry, Etymonline.com quotes the word “relate” as coming from the Latin relatus in the 14th century meaning to “bring back” or “hear back” and Middle French in the 16th century relater meaning to “refer or report.” This makes sense in light of the fact that we get the best understanding of how we appear to the world from the people that are the closest to us. The more intimate or revealing we are with them, and I’m including sex, the more depth and fidelity we can assume about their “report” to us and others of what they sense and know about us…provided our relationship with them is an honest and thriving one. Additionally, the more intimate and revealing they are to us about themselves, the more we contribute to how they identify themselves. You can easily see that if one person is more revealing about themselves than another, this can cause problems in trust issues. I’ll explain more later.

So essentially, a relationship is another person whom we use as a reflection to establish our identity in the world. That being said, what qualities and dimensions make that goal workable between partners?

Relationships-1What does a good relationship include? One of the main ingredients that determines how close we become in a relationship is vulnerability. The more comfortable and trusting we feel with the other person, the more forthcoming and open we’ll be with them about our more private matters. The more intimate we are with that person, the more personal characteristics, qualities and experiences we know about each other. Obviously, this includes sex, however how unfortunately, this is what many younger people think is intimacy. This is understandable in light of the fact that the gradual dissolving of generational family living arrangements where most children, necessarily living in close proximity to other members in the household, would have learned some of the most private secrets and circumstances surrounding each family member if only because of living in such closely forced proximity. Feeling different levels of vulnerability with each other will dictate different levels of trust and comfort we allow with each other. So, suffice it to say, relationships involving older with younger partners would have very different levels of intimacy to reconcile if the relationship were to become and remain healthy.

Shared interest-1Another dimension that is necessary for a thriving relationship is to be supportive of each other. That also requires both partners to listen to and become aware of the each other’s wants, needs and desires. With that support would also come a need for there to be common interests and common goals for the relationship to work toward together. This support and common involvement gives understanding and insight as to how each of them works, processes and plans their future if only because they’re familiar with each other’s field of endeavor. This helps each partner to know where and how to apply their support.

Disrespect-1A third dimension is one involving respect. The implications of respect might not quite be what you expect. Yes, it means acknowledging the other person’s point of view and efforts but what’s more important is that it requires not only acknowledgement of their chosen path but supporting their efforts on that path even if it disagrees with the values or awareness of the person offering the support. When we raise children we often call this tough love because it requires us to allow our children to do things when we know that their end result will not be to their benefit or liking. We then would only interfere if it actually threatened their safety.

A fourth dimension which often signifies a thriving relationship is when we both feel that we can be ourselves in the relationship without fear of unfair criticism, inhibition or diminishing by our partners. Underlying this dimension is a not so obvious freedom from control issues.

Perspective-2The last dimension I’ll cite is honesty. I’ve left this for last because its absence collapses the effectiveness of every other quality and dimension I’ve mentioned previously. I don’t think I can overemphasize the importance of this quality.

I have not mentioned love because for as many people there are in the world are as many definitions there are of the concept. Each of us must define for ourselves what love means to us depending on our maturity, experience and attitude in dealing with other people. So let’s move on to specific qualities that presage the eventual death of a relationship.

5 Things That Will Destroy a Relationship:
broken-promises-11. Broken trust. For most people this is probably the number one factor contributing to the collapse of a relationship. What we expect from or assume about the other person constitutes how we validate why we trust them. Ensuing experience with them only serves to confirm or deny that trust. If we expect them to be monogamous and they’re not, we feel betrayed. If we expect them to share their time, money and support with us and they don’t, we feel taken advantage of. If we believe that they are listening to us and we find that they haven’t, we feel insulted and disrespected. I think you get the idea. If what we expect of them doesn’t materialize, we lose our trust in them.

blindmen-elephant-22. Unspoken expectations or assumptions. This factor works very closely with broken trust. This is probably one of the hardest things for us to see occurring in our relationships. Remember included or omitted qualities taught us by our parents? Whatever we are brought up with, or without, we naturally assume that our significant other will have in their characteristic makeup. So to illustrate a point, if we were raised in a family where monogamy was expected and practiced and our significant other wasn’t, their casual transgressions will not seem as important to them as they would to us and trust and intimacy issues will plummet through the floor. We won’t be able to understand how they can treat it so lightly and they won’t understand why we take it so seriously. The key is that if it was never discussed before, it would be a powder keg just waiting for a spark. So, our best policy for any relationship is to discuss what it is that we expect from each other so there are no surprises. We could also include cultural and religious differences as contributing to unseen expectations.

Blaming-13. One sided blame for shared events. Being accountable for our own behavior in a relationship is something that we learn in our early childhood. If blame was our parental method of choice for keeping us hopping and performing for them, we will tend to do the same thing in our own intimate relationships, especially, when the majority of us seek to repeat the rapport we had with our opposite sexed parent when growing up if only to feel familiar and comfortable in the new relationship. But what if our significant other was raised being taught to be accountable for their own actions and their parents also honestly and fairly admitted their culpability in challenging shared circumstances? What would that do to the willingness of our significant other to divulge their involvement in circumstances if they were to only expect blame and derision from us when they did? Would they continue to be forthcoming in becoming vulnerable to us? I think not. They would begin to shut down. Accountability is a major factor in the death of many immature relationships. If we can’t be honest about our involvement in difficult situations, especially if they’re shared, how can a relationship develop any openness in each other’s space? Most people who are solely blamed for all relationship difficulties usually refrain from ever again talking about circumstances that draw blame. Another death null for the relationship through decreasing vulnerability, intimacy and trust.

mine-all-mine-14. Selfishness. There are two reasons why selfishness can be expressed in a relationship. The first one and least toxic is when one of the partners was simply never trained by their parents or teachers to put themselves in the shoes of another person. Be aware that compassion is learned not innate. As the child grows into an adult this will also show itself more subtlety as insensitivity and lack of consideration. It’s not that the person is intentionally selfish but that they had just never been made acquainted with how anyone else might feel when others experienced them. This type is usually fairly easy to “fix” provided the person who wasn’t trained is open toward learning in order to make the relationship better. The second is more toxic and hurtful to the relationship. This is where the person did learn the sensitivities another might feel but decided to ignore or abuse these qualities. This would also include being unsupportive unless the support could be used for personal advantage. The reasons that would have made the person use them this way range anywhere from experiencing a trauma to simply receiving abuse themselves thereby contributing to a severely low self-image making them think that they don’t deserve and won’t receive compassion or consideration. Then, since they didn’t receive it themselves and feel they don’t deserve it, they would assume that that permitted them to abuse the qualities in others “evening the score.” To “fix” this would probably require extensive therapy of some sort. This type of circumstance would certainly produce a lopsided relationship in terms of mutual rapport. Often times the “user” is not discovered until the relationship has progressed well into the future due to the fact that most compassionate people are more likely to give others the benefit of the doubt.

Bad Dog5. Evasiveness. When someone is non-committal or won’t be accountable in shared circumstances, our faith in their ability to be trusted with our secrets and vulnerability suffers. If they were raised in an environment where whenever they admitted or agreed to having done something or were coerced into an unwanted commitment and were criticized or diminished when they did, they would tend to adapt a persona of “non-involvement” and simply opt out of any emotional involvement. This is probably not a relationship killer but it would certainly make dependability between partners strained if not impossible. This would be a simple “fix” over a long period of time if the committed partner was willing to work with them long enough to “prove” that they could be trusted more than their parents or siblings not to attack or diminish the “damaged” partner. If the committed partner did not have the patience or enough caring for the “damaged” partner, this would lead them to terminate the relationship.

Work together-1Based on the fact that many of these perspectives are still held by a great many people, we can see how it certainly takes work and effort to build and then maintain a thriving and successful relationship. The sins of the father and mother certainly appear as the sins of the sons and daughters and provide a plethora of opportunities for therapeutic disciplines to correct our basic and historical “omissions” and abuses encountered in our childhoods. As much as we think that “All we need is love,” there are definitely other factors that must be considered and dealt with if we are to have the safe, comfortable and secure relationships we all have fantasized about. We can only hope that our desire and emotional capabilities have enough inertia and passion to overcome many of the pitfalls described here. In light of these issues, a good relationship is a prize worth being thankful for.

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