Avoid relationship burnout
Gain your freedom to create love
I’ve been thinking a lot about spiritual and emotional happiness and success.
The way you are, the degree of openness and love, or the opposite, resentment and suppression, you express and or repress, influence the way you perceive and react to the outer world. As within so without, a variation on, as above so below, that old chestnut. It still holds true for today as it did 3 thousand years ago. The Gnostics, who first posited that belief had a bit of a set against fun though. They took to berating themselves because they had the idea that the body was the source of all sensuality and evil. Pleasure was spiritual pain. Imagine living your life with pleasure as the enemy.
Your brain and being itself is a transmitting and receiving station. You take in information in the form of frequencies, vibrations and photons through your senses and then output thoughts, behavior, language, body positions, emotional reactions or responses. What happens between input and output is what interests me.
Your mind is a filtering mechanism manipulated, programmed and changed by chemistry, genetics, conditioning and learnt judgments. Just recently scientists in the US and Britain have isolated genes for adaptability and addictive behavior. The negative addictive, obsessional behaviors are not your destiny but the behavior mediated by them can be activated by abuse, neglect and dysfunction, of any degree, in childhood. Others not saddled with these genes can be subjected to abuse and because they have an ability to adapt can turn out to be relatively healthy individuals.
Your mental filters are the key to mental, physical and emotional health. In my experience the effects of childhood difficulties can be overcome completely by learning to balance how you see the world, in other words, removing the learnt filters and changing your habits. Understanding and appreciating the gift of an addictive type personality is the first step in a course of self-appreciation. These are sensitivity, enthusiasm, creativity and inspiration that can be focused in any direction giving you almost an infinite array of choices. The drawback is the overwhelming nature of your life’s possibilities that can result in you experiencing overwhelm. The key is making choices that are inspired and focusing and acting on them.
Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras is a manual of how to live in your body and create the possibility of a meaningful and happy life rather than a spiritual or religious doctrine. He lists 4 perquisites for creating happiness. Happiness and sadness are guaranteed in life. Building inner strength allows you to have equanimity with regard to your troubles and steadiness with your life in general, giving you evenness of temper even under extreme stress. But even more so it is important to make choices that are more likely to lead to happy outcomes for you. These choices are made on a moment to moment basis as well as with regard to longer term issues. The parameters need to be simple if you are to have any hope of allowing them to be part of your daily choices.
The 4 behaviors that predispose you towards happiness are Friendliness, cultivate a pleasing manner with your self and others. Dispassion, don’t take things personally. Compassion, see things from the other’s point of view and Non Envy, do not envy or desire something possessed by somebody else. These behavioral choices are applicable to your self and to others.
If you do manage to initiate some control over your behavior by this character development it is through Impulse Control. I believe one of the basics of human freedom is impulse control.
I came upon this idea in a study of posture. The Alexander Technique suggests that bad posture can be changed in many ways. It takes time and with time you can learn to recognise habitual stances and even though they are familiar and comfortable in the short term, (compensating for an imbalance) in the long run they can be destructive.
To correct a bad habit you must learn to recognise a more balanced stance and when the old habit arises inhibit your impulse to go straight into it and allow, say the neck to lengthen and allow that lengthening to affect the way you carry your spine. This in turn influences your posture and mood. If your have a habitual physical or behavioral stance it mediates your reactions to experience and thus in turn forms them.
In my family of origin I assumed many stances and attitudes both physical and psychological to protect myself. Mostly they consist of avoidance and suppressive behaviors. For example looking people in the eye was hard for me, because to look someone in the eye meant a challenge, it was rarely safe. So now when I have loving friendships and lovers I still find that normal engagement of eye contact distressing. It is healthy to be able to meet someone’s gaze, so now when I am in that situation and feel the familiar anxiety marked by gut pain and chest tightness I don’t look away so quickly, I allow the gaze of the other in and learn to feel safe. In this way I start to gradually make healthy and honest contact. Authentic contact with another human is my birthright and to have that I allow fear to be the teacher and love to be the outcome. It takes ages.
The first step is to recognise that a behavior is dysfunctional and then changing that behavior has to be important enough in your value system for you to initiate changes. Another example, defensiveness. When you think that you are being criticized you may attack back rather than remain calm and appropriately responsive while maintaining self control. The degree of your dysfunction is commensurate with the vehemence of your defensiveness. It is natural to defend your self against attack, but just what constitutes an attack is often at question. Defensive behavior can lose you your job or destroy a relationship or friendship. If these things are important to you and your are overly reactive to what you perceive to be criticism or censure then making that connection and recognising your own behaviour is the first step towards change.
Mellow tunes played throughout the night. A party, a cocktail party. A veranda, conversation, a warmish night for the time of year. We were running out of sitting room. My friend a tall man with attitude went to get some chairs from the dining room. The hostess a vibrant blond, cheerful and friendly, said, ”There are more outdoor chairs in the back room.” I was aware of Mr. Tallman as he scowled. To his credit he went to the back room and fetched a chair.
Why did he scowl? Because he was stopped from doing what he wanted to do? That is get a chair that was readily available instead of having to trek to the back room. Because he didn’t like being directed and felt like a servant? I really don’t know, I can only speculate.
On the way home I sat in the front passenger seat listening to him rant about the controlling nature of my blond friend, our good hostess. I sighed and sank lower into the seat, I stared at the buildings and the people walking by and watched the lights change from red to green. I slipped off my shoes and sighed and put my left foot on his dashboard. Mr. Tallman scowled again, I didn’t see it, but this time I felt it, as I was the cause, and took the brunt of his offensive. “Get your feet off my dash.” He said with a stern face and a belligerent voice.
I took my foot down and turned slowly to my right. “You have just done to me exactly what you said Helen did. If you don’t like it then don’t dish it out. A simple please and polite request would have been enough.” He squirmed because he did have the intelligence to see that I had seen through something contradictory in his nature in the exchange. Finally we drove up to my front door and my legs flew me out of the car.
Here’s the background theory. Each of us has every human character traits expressed or hidden. What you judge and criticise in others is something that you do not acknowledge or like in yourself. This is resentment. On the other hand its opposite infatuation gives a similar but opposite dynamic. Infatuation means you think someone has more good in them than bad. To enable this you may deny in yourself the good qualities you see in them be it beauty, intelligence or power.
Here’s another pair of opposites, depression and elation. You get depressed because you have an imagined perfection for your life that seems impossible to create or measure up to. The beauty of depression is the way it helps us form ideas of perfection, ideals that though they might overwhelm us with sadness because we see them as impossible to achieve, give us a perfect idea, a standard or principle to which we can aspire. Depression creates possibilities.
Elation, fun as it is, and joyful as it is often goes nowhere it can be exhausting. Reaching too much into joy causes us to stumble carelessly.
Here’s what it means (my version of reality): experience is dependant on the input of the senses, the state of consciousness (mind) and learnt judgments (ego). This occurs in time and space. When you withdraw the senses (concentrate on what is happening inside you), still the movements of consciousness (by concentration on say your breath) a gradual lessening of the separation of I and you (observer and observed) occurs and the sense of I and you as separate disappears and you experience a relatively state of stillness, peace and light. Who you thought you were gradually expands and changes and you become more universal more expansive as a person.
When I sit quietly breathing my feelings down, deep inside myself, I find an immense emptiness, a yearning spaciousness, an ache that is loud and visceral, a vacuum of longing. This points to my human desire for connection and relationship. The emptiness is your teacher when you become comfortable with it you can move towards healthy connections and relationships. When you run away from it you seek desperate relationships in an attempt to fill the inner aching emptiness. Gentle and real connection heals and fulfils. All this is both physical and spiritual.
For me true love and freedom, when I allow that in myself and in all my relationships, brings a radiance to my being and rekindles my enthusiasm for life. The connection must occur on an inner level and an outer level. Within the heart to your mind, from your body to your spirit.
So how to connect with love and freedom? Keep no secrets, take delight in yourself and the person you are with, be uniquely yourself and creative, be grateful for what you have while seeking what you would love, look people in the eye, share your delight.
A check list to ensure a healthy connection with others.
• Learn to listen and do not give advice unless directly asked.
• Stay on track with your own direction. Do not lose your personal direction.
• Spend time cultivating shared experiences.
• Be respectful to others
• Stand up for what is important to you.
• Have fun
• Argue fairly
• Be committed to yourself and your friendships
• Don’t try to change the other person
• Keep your dreams healthy and alive.