Mindful Relating

On Mindful Relating

I kind of amuse myself as I watch myself figuring out articles — it gets to be mid-week, and a topic seems to pop into my mind.

I thought I ought to write some stuff on relationships, especially considering how popular my blog post, “9 Ways to Screw up a Relationship” is. So, I started thinking about how to frame the article.

joan as police woman

I am through with sharing all my love

I have outgrown crowding up my house

when you found me, I could not be loved

but then I found me and I’m happy to be loved.

Joan as Police Woman,

To Be Loved”

A while back, I downloaded an album called “To Survive,” by Joan as Police Woman. I was playing it while thinking about what to write about, and I heard the lyrics I’ve quoted. Bingo.

This set of lyrics is interesting, and is actually quite Zen. If you look, you can see the progression of self understanding that is necessary to let yourself be “happy to be loved.”


I am through with sharing all my love

We have all been conditioned by our culture to have some really stupid ideas about relationships, and their point. Romantic notions get dumped in with the ‘reality’ of daily living, to our detriment.

The major dumb, romantic notion is “If I give you something (share myself with you,) you’ll love me and look after me, and we’ll live happily ever after.”

If you believe this, then every interaction becomes a test. The longer this kind of relationship lasts, and the more score-keeping goes on, the deeper the trouble, and the more depleted each becomes.

You get long lists of “sins” committed by the other. “See how bad he is? He promises me he’ll change and then he doesn’t!” Somehow, the bargain didn’t work out: “I gave him/her [sex, money, security, kids, endless advice, correction…] and look what it got me!”

Here’s the first lesson: you can’t share love.

There is no thing called love, so sharing it is impossible. On the other hand, I can give and accept love. How is this different?

Giving: if I give you something, I need to give you all of it.

Problem: “Here’s a bicycle for your birthday. But… I’m only going to give you the wheels and seat, and when you prove yourself, maybe I’ll give you more.” Or, “Here’s a bicycle. It’s yours, until I need it, or I get mad at you. Then give it back.”

Solution: “I give you my love, unconditionally. Right now, in this moment. You don’t have to behave in a certain way to deserve it, and I’m not doling it out by the teaspoon.”

Love is not a bargain, and cannot be shared.

Love either is, or is not.

Receiving: If you receive something, take all of it, without holding back.

I have many clients who think (imagine, judge) that they have been hurt or betrayed in the past. Daddy abandoned them, mom was nuts, past relationships failed [always somehow the fault of the other person, or bad karma, or blamed on genetics or parenting…] They get into “Once burned, twice cautious,” and receive each new partner’s love “under advisement.”

Problem: “I’m not sure if (s)he loves me, because [(s)he wants too much/does too little, doesn’t listen, is distracted, etc., so I’m going to be careful, and always point out what I am not getting.”

Solution: If you choose to be with someone, accept that person as they are. Not who you wish they were, but as they are. How they love you is how they love you.


I have outgrown crowding up my house

Outgrow is correct. Many immature people, unable to figure out the personal responsibility part of relationships, go for the volume discount. The more the merrier.

I suspect many people stay in relationships out of fear of being alone. Many people move from relationship to relationship, trying to fill their internal void (which is, by definition, unfillable.) Others think sex (or drugs, alcohol, food, etc.) will do the trick.

And upon waking, a house full of friends and lovers fills nothing, internally.

In another “Joan” song (“To be Lonely”) we hear,

I’ll brave the night alone

The darkened sky

Uncertain skies

I’ll make it through

It’s a wondrous night

Protect me night

I’ll make it through

This is the one I will try

This is the one I will try

This is the one I will try

to be lonely with

Second lesson: external gratification is like Chinese food. You’re hungry an hour later

Problem: One woman I know really dislikes her husband, but stays because — the next one might be worse.” I wonder why she thinks there has to be a next one.

I sense she fears being alone and hates being with herself–and rather than deal with that, she hangs out with other people she can blame for what she feels–for her feeling of hate or fear.

In other words, inside is a feeling. It’s just a feeling. Instead of working with her internal processes, she goes “external,” and always finds someone to blame. She’s really, really good at it.

Solution: You will never be complete until you accept your essential emptiness and aloneness. Odd, eh? Running around trying to get filled up with something is fruitless. Standing still or sitting still (the whole point of Zazen) helps us to expand our tolerance, and eventual acceptance and love, for our essential nature.


When you found me, I could not be loved

but then I found me and I’m happy to be loved.

Zen and Zazen are about finding yourself. It’s the only game in town.

I get tired, listening to people blaming their symptoms on externals. “Bodywork made me feel…” “When she looked at me that way, I…” “If only my mother…” This all happens both blindly and unreflectively.

Lesson three: “Out there” takes the heat, yet there is no “out there.”

Not really. Sure, stuff is happening, but whatever you are thinking and feeling (your internal experience) is a concoction of your own mind’s drama.

So, here’s the kicker. This is not about repressing your feelings, or your thinking. You can’t. This is about actually noticing the games you are playing with yourself. You see the drama you are creating in there, and choose to disengage with it. Or express it, with full self-responsibility.

I, for example, often tell myself “No one (except Dar) likes me or loves me.” I then tell Dar I’m doing that, and then I whine and sniffle. I do not try to get others to love me, nor do I blame. I just notice the game I am playing inside, and express it.

Then, I get back to reality. I act, as often as possible, choicefully.

In other words, rather than externalizing, I “find me.”

Finding me means noticing me, listening to me, taking total responsibility for me. Period.

Dare I say it?
In order to be a complete, fulfilled, “enlightened” human being, you have to love yourself. Not selected bits, but all of you.

To do this, you must, repeat, must, stop yourself from living conditionally. I’ll be happy when…” is stupid. I am how I am right now, and it has nothing to do with something imagined, and always n the future.

This is the sticking point for most.

People want exceptions–for everyone to agree that they have it bad, are abused (or were, sometime in the past…) and have no responsibility for their behaviour right now. Phooey.

I am loved, and I accept that love, moment-by-moment,

only so far as I am willing to do so.

I can only do so by finding myself.

If I am offered friendship, passion, juiciness, and refuse to “play,” I lose. If I accept all of myself and my life, I win.

This is all there is:
then I found me and I’m happy to be loved.

Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Leave a comment or question!


About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

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