07 Jan Keys to Conscious Relationship, Part 2
Perhaps the number one characteristic of a successful conscious relationship is communication. Without communication any relationship slowly deteriorates. At times, it is very difficult to maintain communication with your partner. Most of us were not taught the rudiments of open and honest communication in childhood, so we have little experience with it. Yet I have found open and honest communication to be one of most powerful tools that we have at our disposal. Honest communication keeps your relationship moving along the paths of personal and interpersonal growth and keeps both partners in sync with one another.
Honest communication also forces us to move out of denial. You cannot change your partner. We must “face” ourselves squarely and honestly in order to make other choices. Whenever there is trouble, heart to heart, not head-to-head communication usually clears the air. Summoning the courage to talk about what you are feeling and experiencing enables you to let down the walls of protection that we have constructed to defend ourselves from life. I love the song from Sting, “Fortress Around Your Heart”. It speaks of the defenses we create to keep others out. Many of us were never listened to as children. Having someone who cares enough to listen to concerns, fears, secrets, triumphs, jokes, inspirations and meanderings is a blessing beyond words. Intimacy is another vital characteristic of conscious relationships. It is often referred to as “in-two-me-you-see”. I have carried my dirty little secrets around for so long that they have become a part of my interior landscape. My closets are overflowing with these old skeletons and may sometimes rattle me to the bone.
But when I share what I carry within, it alleviates the tension and unburdens me. Letting my partner see what is inside of me has the ultimate effect of releasing judgment, guilt, shame, fear, and faultfinding. In some ways it is easier to live alone than in a conscious relationship because when I’m alone I only have to answer to myself. Living with another successfully requires that I consider the other person when making decisions and formulating plans. It is certainly easier for me to remain in denial when I am alone than when I’m in a conscious relationship. Additionally, you have to be willing to surrender the life games that you were in, before the relationship.
It takes great effort to invest in a relationship so deeply. It’s also not fair to say that any relationship that isn’t a conscious relationship is not useful and fulfilling to people. A lot of people come together because it’s just really comfortable living with another person and there is a wonderful kind of sweet intimacy. It’s fun to cook with each other, to sleep together, and just live together without trying to get too deep in as a spiritual practice. And many of those people have other spiritual practices. They meditate or do tai chi or something else. Yet living in a conscious relationship can give you the opportunity to learn compassion, forgiveness, patience, humility, surrender, being there for others, perseverance and love. Also, being in a conscious relationship, brings up all of the “unfinished mommy/daddy business”, which has been left over from each of the two partner’s childhood. As children we were imprinted with our parent’s negative and positive characteristics and programming.
We have been conditioned by our parents to react to the specific triggers around what a partner says or does. Our parents “taught” us how to handle disagreements and conflicts by their actions, words, or silences. Children are sponges and soak up everything going on in their environment. Not knowing any better we believed that what we were learning was the way to live in relationship with another person. It is important to remember that our parents were imprinted by their parents, too. They are blameless. We are all actually innocent of any wrongdoing. This is just how relationships have proceeded up to this point.
When we are attracted to someone, we may be sure that this person will bring up are hidden childhood wounds.
This person, if we choose, can help us clear all this “old stuff” which inhabits us from living our lives fully joyously, and consciously. If both partners are committed to spiritual growth, conscious relationship is one of the fastest ways to awaken. Marianne Williamson says: “there comes a point where we have done as much of the inner workings we can do by ourselves.” For a long time many of us felt the need to forgo intimate relationships while we did our inner work, from which those traumas distracted us. But the emotional zeitgeist has shifted now at this point we need intimate relationships in order to go further with our inner work. Intimacy has become our new frontier because honesty in life is relatively easy while honesty with an intimate partner is 10 times harder, integrity regarding an intimate partner is much more confusing and forgiveness as a principal is easy enough to grasp while for the giving an intimate partner takes more wisdom and grace then we may feel capable of.”
The synergistic energy created when two come together is the perfect tool to work through all these old negative patterns of behavior. Two, working and living in harmony, are a powerful energy for change. A couple living in conscious awareness can finally let go of the emotional baggage from childhood. Making a relationship sacred/conscious allows the healing process to take place. We must be willing to re-experience the old wounds, move out of denial of their impact on us, and learn to release them in forgiveness. Doing this causes us to change who we are and more importantly how we see ourselves. When old unfinished mommy/daddy business comes up we are reacting in a programmed way. We have adopted the same behaviors, actions and attitudes our parents taught us and are not reacting from a thoughtful, conscious place. Often, the unfinished mommy/daddy business will even blind us to the love that exists between our partner and ourselves. We simply forget. Without full awareness of this love, there is no foundation to hold the relationship intact while the needed process of change occurs. The partner who was supposed to be supportive often gets talked into his or her own unfinished mommy/daddy business, too. That partner then starts reacting to his or her own “stuff” and is unable to be compassionate.
This either causes us an argument or a shutdown between the partners and neither partner feels they can continue the process of healing that had begun. In a conscious relationship, however, when unfinished mommy/daddy business comes up one of the partners “holds the space” for the other, without judgment. “Holding the space” means listening to and supporting the other from a place of compassion validation and empathy. This allows the other to re-experience his or her old wounding in a safe and healing way. A conscious relationship seesaws back and forth as each partner takes his or her turn in each role: re-experiencing the pain or “holding the space”. It takes courage and commitment to be able to assume both of these roles.
Through our conscious awareness, and through practicing conscious relationships, we can finally put an end to the multi-generational, dysfunctional relationships we usually see. It falls to us to search out another way of being in relationship with one another. Those of us who choose to create conscious relationships remember our soul agreement to do so. It is part of our awakening process. We have agreed to create the possibility and the reality of a new kind of relationship-one which is soul-centered not ego-centered. We do this for ourselves and for all humanity. In doing so, we are changing the face of relationships forever. If you are interested in exploring how your and your partner’s unfinished mommy/daddy business affects your current relationship, consider signing up for the Craig Lambert Couples Therapy newsletter. It will keep you up to date on current San Diego and Southern California workshops as well as recent research into common relationship issues.