Passionate Engagement

  1. Intimacy as a Way Inside
  2. Intimacy and Passion in Relationships
  3. Passion’s Flow
  4. Passionate Encounters — Living Passionately
  5. Passionate Engagement

Passionate Engagement — we engage as only we can, by focussing on ourselves, seeing who we are, and sharing fully

Wayne C. Allen

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Passionate Engagement starts with self-knowing

One of the most obvious things about doing Relationship work is how often you bump up against… yourself.

I impress myself with what people are able to accomplish, once they give themselves permission to drop their need to plan, to order and to understand. Stunning insights, waves of feeling; all of this happens within the framework of “making contact.”

It’s never about the context
it’s always about the contact.

It’s oh so easy to look outside of ourselves for what’s going on, to default to old behaviours, to abrogate responsibility for where we are and what we are choosing.

But I don’t buy this external focus, because, so long I am alive and breathing, I am choosing what I am doing.

In the book The Mystery of Human Relationship — Alchemy and the Transformation of the Self, Salant writes that while alchemists were ostensibly “about” transforming one substance into another, the alchemists were also and fundamentally transforming themselves.

We need passion in order to transform ourselves — and the vehicle (or the laboratory) for that transformation is relating.

In other words, our transformation arises in the action of relating, not in the existence of the relationship, per se. As one relates, one’s self is transformed.

This form of passion is both deep and profound. The direction of this sort of relating is the direct opposite of the safety of mere communication — away from head trips, explanations, wonderings and musings about “why” and “what’s right,” to the sharing of the heights and depths of ourselves — the revealing of our pain, our secrets — even our outright strangeness.

In studying myself (seemingly forever…) I’ve discovered a few things.

For example, when Darbella is hurting I have a burning desire to jump in and make it all better. This leaping in, at its root, is not about Dar — it’s about me trying to “fix” my discomfort with her pain. To simply sit with her as she explores her pain, or even more difficult, to sit with her as she simply chooses to be in her pain, seems impossible, to that part of me that wants to “fix.”

Until I take a breath.

In that moment of inner focus, I see my fear of change, my fear of pain. If I choose to stay there, I can see how my fear causes me to want to turn my attention outward — to try to “fix” the universe so I can be happy.

As I catch myself doing this, I can then stop myself — I can choose differently. With effort, I can become curious about Darbella and her experiences, while accepting responsibility solely for my own experiences.

Often, relationships break because of fear of intimacy, while the parties involved loudly proclaim that intimacy is what they are seeking.

True intimacy, however, is the ownership of the process of the opening up of the self for examination and sharing. We must reveal all of it, and especially the parts we wish to hide, or wish we could get rid of.

To quote Ben Wong and Jock McKeen, in The New Manual for Life,
(p. 245)

In our view, change of the basic personality is not possible. Often, seeking for change is a way of anesthetizing the anxiety of nonbeing that accompanies life. To accept one’s deep structures and tendencies often involves embracing this anxiety. To devote oneself to knowing one’s basic patterns (and accepting the accompanying anxiety) rather than trying to eradicate them, will allow for more self-acceptance, more self-responsibility, a greater inner strength and heightened self esteem.…The more thoroughly people know their patterns and tendencies, the more varied, creative and spontaneous they can be.”

This knowing of the self, and accepting of the self, includes letting others in on what’s going on.

Often, we want to hide the dark stuff we consider to be too black for public consumption. Yet it is only in the dialog, the sharing of self, all of the self, that choice becomes available. It is only after I admit to my games and foibles that I can access the thought, the intent, of doing things in a different way.

Relating is difficult. It requires time, focus and a full commitment to self-revelation. Yet, when the going gets rough, relating requires nothing more than staying in direct contact and continuing to express curiosity.

Life was never meant to be easy. We are complex creatures, driven by motives and passions that are as old as we are — and which link to generations that came before us. We bring ourselves, all of us, into relationship.

The height of silly, then, would be to pretend we can hide the parts of ourselves that we judge to be unacceptable. The depth of wisdom is to reveal all, and be witnessed fully, with no cop outs, no pleas of “I don’t know what I’m doing” — no excuses, no running away.

We may get it “wrong” as often as we get it “right,” but the challenge, the passion and the joy of seeing ourselves more deeply, (as well as seeing ourselves through another’s eyes,) makes the effort required worthwhile.

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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