Finding Meaning in Relating

  1. The Bliss of Discomfort
  2. Sensuality, Sexuality, Spirituality in Practice
  3. Finding Meaning in Relating
  4. The Power of Vocation
  5. The Self-Reflective Life — Self Reflection

Meaning in Relating — The point I am making in this series of articles is this: everything in life is not only a growth opportunity, but more importantly is a sign-post to how I am living my life.

relating

Recently, I started a series of articles. I suggested that four areas (sexuality (1), (2), relationships, vocation, and self-responsibility) could be looked at for guidance on how our lives are progressing, and that the four needed to be no less than neutral in “feel,” and to be in balance.


Today’s second part of the Relationships segment has to do with the personal benefits that can be derived from relationships — through deep and direct effort – through elegant communication and honesty.

Before we get to that, however, let me quickly answer en e‑mail I received after the last article – it provides one framework for today’s article.

My conclusions in life so far is that divorce (“getting out”) can become quite necessary when growth turns negative and when all attempts to work through things fail, but it is still something to learn from, not just react to. It too can be a personal growth opportunity. The relationship that got you to that point was also a significant growth opportunity — a kind of trial by fire perhaps. Like you were meant to be in that particular relationship in order to get that growth opportunity. In your next article I’d like to hear your take on this. 
FYI: I’d say that’s the approach I’m inclined to take, and if after divorce, like you I end up meeting someone else with whom friendship is a key factor, along with intimacy, then a ‘relationship’ may develop, but for me I’m not expecting it to end in another marriage. I’d have to be especially lucky for that to happen. I have a good friend who suggested that the time alone after separation/divorce is also an opportunity to learn more about myself, and get comfortable with who I am. That was an inspiring comment for me. a very positive approach to take, instead of rushing out to replace a relationship with the first hormonal surge that comes along. (I’ve not even been looking, for that matter, I’m just working on myself.) I trust that life will provide me what I need for my next phase. 🙂
Your thoughts will be interesting to hear if you find any of the above worthwhile commenting on.

The point I am making in this series of articles is this: everything in life is not only a growth opportunity, but more importantly is a sign-post to how I am living my life.

The problem, in my opinion, is that people tend to see things as growth opportunities in retrospect – after the end of the relationship, after wasting a life in a job one hates, after getting sick – always after. My goal is to help you to choose to see the signs along the way, as they are occurring, as change opportunities.

In my experience, people hang on and hang on, creating all kinds of excuses for staying put, while blaming the other person for the problems.

I see growth opportunities everywhere, but often, almost always, a growth opportunity is a call for change.
A call to let go.

Now, I’m not talking about abandoning a situation at the first sign of trouble. We think that the letting go is a letting go of what is not working. Then, if I decide to leave, it is time for more work, more reflection, so that I do not repeat the mistakes of the past.

My sense is that, and here’s this week’s stuff, mostly what people do is blame others, and then sit in a feeling of self-righteous victimization. We propose that what doesn’t work is simply something that doesn’t work. Wise souls use such moments personally. In other words, rather than looking to place blame (self or other) one looks at the behaviour that isn’t working, and then does something different.

M. Scott Peck wrote (over two books) that there were three reasons to be in relationship.

1. procreation,
2.for the tension, and
3. to actively participate in the spiritual growth of another person.

We’ll leave procreation aside and look at the other two.

Peck means by tension the drama that is always going to exist between any two people. There must be tension, simply because we are different, totally different, in upbringing, values, and understandings. These are some of the things that cause conflict, or tension.

masks

Often, couples engage in warfare about who is right, and the exercise is driven by wanting the partner to live differently, think differently, believe differently. In other words, conflict comes when I think my was is not different, but either better or right.

This is a growth edge, in that learning to let go of the need to be right is vital for personal development. Understanding that differences are differences of opinion, not fact, is the mark of the beginning of maturity. Letting go of the need to be right allows me to become curious about who my partner is, and how they operate (differently than me, not wrong.)

The spiritual growth part is about meaning – why am I really here? Our belief is that we are here to learn who we are and to expand and deepen our self knowledge. It is almost required that this be done in dialog. The reason for that is that we are really good at self-justification (lying to ourselves.) Left to our own devises, we simply continue to make our crappy lives all about what the other person (or situation) is “doing” to us.

We teach a communication model, not to get people to relate by rote, but to start people down the path of self-observation. Once a person begins to think and talk self-responsibly, the pattern of the model can go background. The dialog has been agreed upon, and thus is no longer optional.

Once I’ve agreed to be open, honest, and intimate, I no longer need permission to continue to do so. Requiring permission each time would be dumb, as then people could opt out at any time, and coincidentally, that time would be when they are under stress.

Darbella and I have an agreement that we will be in dialog, and this dialog will have a few characteristics. The chief characteristic is total honesty. This means that I have engaged to keep Dar in the loop of what is up for me – all the time, and Dar will do the same. There are no secrets, no games, no lying. What I do and how I think is an open book.

We also, and this is an aspect of the last of Peck’s points, are really interested in each other’s growth. We’re not in a competition with each other – over who is better, or smarter, or more “evolved.” We’re in this together. Thus, we take each other’s side in all external conflict. We look for solutions, not to place blame. We look for ways to resolve our issues, and to do so quickly and elegantly.

It is our belief that one’s main relationship is perhaps the most fertile field possible for self-examination and growth. Because of the 247 nature and commitment, there really is no place to hide.

As soon as blame is removed from the equation, all I am left with is whether the relationship I am in is the kind of relationship that will nurture my growth. (And, of course, if my partner is not interested in this process, it’s not going to go very far at all.)

My goal is to continually dig deeper and to let my partner know what I am discovering, and vice versa.

This is not the norm, but is the only valid use of a relationship.


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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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