Finding Balance in Relationships: Challenging Your Core Beliefs
Unless we live in a total isolated vacuum, we encounter relationships. We have relationships with everything, be it friends, family, spouses, our communities as well as all that exists within nature and the world around us. We also have the very important relationship with our own self, which from a spiritual perspective sets the foundation for the way we interact in all our relationships.
As an extension of my last blog, I would like to go a bit deeper into understanding relationships, in particular, looking at how to find balance in relationships. Likely we all have experienced at some point or another feeling unheard or unloved, or we have found ourselves in power struggles with another. Sometimes painful relationships can become life patterns, revisiting the same scenarios again and again, yet we do not know how to get out of them. We want change but we are not sure where to begin. Most often we try to change the other person into who we want them to be, rather than witnessing them as they are. Or perhaps we get fed up with them not changing, so we try to find the “right” person who will better fit our desires. Yet often the very same unconscious forces that got us into those initial relationships still drive our decisions, so our relationships may continue in a similar manner. Meanwhile, deep within, a still, quiet voice may be trying to tell us through our dreams, or the rising of painful emotions or through health issues, that our lives are not in balance with our true potential.
Relationships themselves are an abundant source of learning, when we understand what we are doing in them. When we see relationships as a gift and opportunity to learn to truly love and for enriched personal growth, we can evolve deeply and quickly. By interacting with others and sharing the gift of this moment, by being open and receptive to meet the other as they are, we live enrich our lives. The Chinese Taoist master Lao Tzu from the sixth century B.C. reminds us: "If you look to others for fulfillment, you will never be truly fulfilled." Yogis, sages and spiritual masters tell us to look within to find lasting joy. So we know that the key to finding balance in relationships starts from finding balance in our relationship to our selves. Jesus advised people to treat others the way they wish to be treated. We could also say, we tend to treat others the way we treat ourselves. All that we experience in our life is a reflection of our own inner experience. The more balance we have within, the more balance we experience without.
In order to find balance in relationships, we need to become conscious of what really is driving our choices. In order get conscious, we need to accept that life is not a random series of circumstances that are passively happening to us, but that what we experience is a reflection of our deeper beliefs and past karmic tendencies. We are co-creating our reality. If we want our relationships to change, our inner dialogue and unconscious beliefs that sculpt our life choices must change. By getting to know who we are through meditation and spiritual practices, we learn to transform our unconscious belief patterns and projected perceptions so that we may receive the moment with unattached clarity. The call to be responsible for all that happens in our lives as a reflection of our own state of consciousness asks us to open to life and participate fully as who we are. Why? Because we can. All that tells us that we are not capable is illusion. This is an act of spiritual sobriety that dissolves the tendency to feel disconnected from life and invokes the expression of our inner most magnificent Self.
In my last blog, I shared how I choose to look at relationships that push my buttons. In every circumstance, we have an opportunity to learn and grow by seeing all as a reflection in our own inner dialogue. When we experience relationship patterns that violate us, for example, we know that at some level, we believe that relationships violate. When we step back, we rationally know that a violating relationship is not healthy. But we create circumstances that reflect the way we believe relationships to be. We likely have experienced violation in the past, this lifetime or other, so we repeat the same pattern until we wake up and choose otherwise. We create what we know because we believe that to be real. And we may be trying to heal past wounds through recreating similar circumstances in which we can grow. As we transform the way we experience the moment by receiving it and being present, we have greater choice and possibility.
In an ultimate sense, we are not able to understand the full energy exchange in any given situation until we are enlightened. We are not yet all seeing and all knowing. What goes on in the unseen world at the level of karma remains a mystery for most of us. For us to find balance then in relationship, we must go within and look at what our core beliefs are about relationships. Do we truly feel that we can be loved? Do we sincerely feel that love exists? Maybe consciously we do, but deeper, maybe we do not feel we deserve to be loved. As we go deeper within and find the distorted stories in our psyche, we can begin to rewrite our journey and make different choices. We have guideposts, clues, along the path of self-awakening. We learn to support what feels expansive within and release that which feels constrictive. When we explore our relationships from that vantage point, we can see that expansion supports our evolution, and constriction keeps us in some way in a state of disconnection and suffering.
Understanding Core Beliefs
Everyone’s core beliefs are different, depending on our unique journey. Each one of us will find balance in our relationships in different ways as everyone has an individual soul voice and path. So I encourage you to write out what your core beliefs may be about your relationships. These core beliefs are driving your thoughts, choices and actions. These are creating your reality.
I have done the following exercise in different ways over the years, because I keep finding new things about myself within it. Find a quiet place and set aside about 20-30minutes of time. Have a computer or pen and paper handy. With the intention to be transparently honest with yourself about what you deeply believe about these topics, ask yourself the following questions:
1) What do I believe about myself?
2) What do I believe about others?
3) What do I believe about women?
4) What do I believe about men?
5) What do I believe about intimate relationships?
6) Do I believe I can find a life partner? How come?
7) What do I believe about my job?
8) What do I believe about my career path?
9) What do I believe about being fulfilled?
Be creative. Be open. Write other questions – like what do I believe about sex, money, fun, etc… if you feel so inspired and keep diving deep. You are like an archeologist on a treasure hunt. Then review. Reread and set this aside. You may do this exercise as often as you can to keep finding new things.
Then take a new piece of paper or open a new document and answer the questions as to what you would like to believe, such as:
1) What would I like to believe about myself?
2) What would I like to believe about others?
Step back and take a look at both sets of answers, what you do believe and what you would like to believe. Are they the same? If they are the same, you likely feel aligned and fulfilled in that area of your life. Well done. If they are not, that is fine. You have room for growth.
My practice shows me that replacing one thought for another does not work over the long term because we need to practice a deeper inner restructuring and release process. We likely are still holding onto the old beliefs, trying to fit new ones over top. So instead, contemplate the gap between the two. That is your growth edge. Allow yourself to expand by releasing the attachments to the existing belief by understanding what it is, and what it creates. When you clearly see that what you believe is creating something that brings you suffering, you no longer choose to give it power, so you naturally and spontaneously release. In that moment of letting go, there is space in which the new belief can take root. A way to get to understand fully a core belief that does not serve our greatest good is to challenge it. If you believe for example that love does not exist, you can ask yourself the questions: “Really? Love does not exist? I felt a really open, warm energy that felt like love the other day. It must exist!” By challenging core beliefs that do not serve us, we build lasting inner confidence in our ability to grow. Because we feel the expansion of possibility and capability, letting go and opening to the new becomes that much easier.
I have found, no matter what our personal belief system may be, no matter what our unique soul expression may be, all relationships are governed by a few fundamental spiritual principles. To me, they are:
1) That which I do to myself, I do to all beings.
2) The way I treat another is the way I treat myself.
3) When I choose expansion, everybody wins.
4) When I serve the creative flow, (that which is much greater than my limited ego or will) I support evolution in myself and in all beings.
As perhaps a simple guide, or point of inspiration, I would like to share here that which inspires me to experience balance in my relationships. These are a reflection of how I choose to live. You are welcome to feel inspired to use these or create your own. Remember, you only get what you really, truly want - to live the love you are - when you are dedicated to awakening and following your I AM evolutionary journey. That is the foundation that inspires my list.
1) Supporting basic needs:
I choose to cultivate relationships that support my basic needs, such as food and shelter. With this foundation, I support and feel supported in my I AM evolution, which supports all beings being rooted in I AM.
2) Emotional support:
I choose to cultivate relationships where I feel emotionally supported being beautifully and uniquely myself. Through listening and feeling received, I feel there is room for me to express my needs and be heard doing so. There is room to follow my flow and create in my unique way.
3) Healthy Boundaries:
I choose to cultivate relationships that respect my boundaries. I feel I can be myself. I have the space I need to heal, grow and learn. We respect each other’s needs equally, sharing with kindness.
4) Cultivating Joy
I choose to cultivate relationships where there is heart, learning to live with compassion for all beings. The heart is like a joy flower. Its very nature is joy just as my essential nature is joy. Sharing from the heart, we are witness to and receive each other’s magnificence.
5) Having a voice:
I choose to cultivate relationships where everyone has the right to express their needs, feelings, dreams and ideas. I feel heard and respected when I give voice to what I wish to express. My relationships support the right for myself and all beings to have a voice.
6) To see and be seen:
I choose to cultivate relationships where I am seen as I am, not as another may want me to be. My sight and insights are received and respected. I am supported in clearly seeing that which is.
7) Supporting evolution
I choose to be in relationships that support my soul’s evolution. By support my soul’s evolution, I support all beings evolving. In this way, my relationships support self-less service to all beings everywhere.
May we all find ourselves cultivating balanced joy, love, service and expansion in all our relationships so that all beings everywhere may be free.
Lokah Samastha Sukshino Bhavantu.