How can you improve your relationships? Understandably, a simple Step 1, Step 2 cookbook approach is attractive. However, a deeper look provides better results.
There’s a wisdom within all of us that’s the source of healthy relationships. That wisdom does not need to be created. It’s already there. It only needs to be freed. Cultivating a healthy relationship with your inner dynamic frees that wisdom. Trying to manipulate your inner dynamic only distorts things.
When you’re in a difficult relationship with another person, it’s easy to think it’s because of the other person. And that may well be true. Nevertheless, the approach remains the same: Free your own inner wisdom by understanding your inner dynamic.
Your inner dynamic is very intimately connected with your identity. Difficult relationships generally are a tug-of-war between two identities. Your identity arose from the sum total of your life’s experiences and reaches to the very root of your being. It includes the manner in which you feel as well as the manner in which you think. It colors everything. It profoundly affects your inner dynamic—your convictions, affinities, aversions, beliefs, fears, and longings. It is who and what you believe yourself to be. But it can be extremely challenging to honestly acknowledge what is really going on inside you. It usually feels threatening.
What lies deeper than your identity is your true nature. By creating a healthy relationship with your identity, you move beyond identity and discover your true nature—the source of wisdom, healthy behavior, and positive relationships (not only with other people, but also with yourself). Health dwells within you as you.
The path is profoundly elusive. It’s easy to convince yourself you are beyond identity—flexible, open-minded, fair, intelligent, and wise. But, that is simply another form of identity. Attempts to let go of your identity amount to holding on to letting go. Instead of avoiding the reality that you have an identity, you would do better to develop a healthy relationship with your identity. At first, that can feel like very unstable ground.
There’s a natural tendency to scurry for stable ground. But that amounts to sweeping the truth under the rug. The truth is that your true nature, which lies deeper than your identity, is very vulnerable. We are all incredibly vulnerable creatures. Yet, opening to your vulnerability can be challenging. For many, vulnerability implies weakness, frailty, and helplessness. In actuality, vulnerability is a positive attribute, a sensitivity inherent to everyone. However, human sensitivity is very easily triggered. A comment, a glance, a gesture, even a demeanor could be enough to make you feel hurt. Very few people are willing to feel their vulnerability. Instead, we jump to blame, anger, denial, criticism, or self-justification, to name a few. These are all forms of identity. Again, moving past identity does not mean getting rid of it. It means having a healthy relationship with it—spreading the cards out on the table, so you feel and experience all of what is going on within you.
To be able to help another move past identity is a rare and subtle gift. If you are not careful, it merely imposes your identity upon another person. No one can even begin to help another move past identity until they have thoroughly worked with their own.
Your job is to explore your vulnerability and your identity. The more you do that, the healthier your relationships will become. Exploration tills the soil of your own inner dynamic. That frees things up so an inherent self-normalization can occur. This enables you to rest into your true nature. This can be a difficult concept for many to grasp. Usually, if during exploration, people discover something they don’t like, they immediately jump to fix it. They tell themselves, “Stop thinking that way; think this way. Don’t feel like that; feel like this.” However, this amounts to creating another identity. Life is just not that simple.
You can easily take what is said here, decide you “get it,” and turn it into another stable ground, another identity. Just that quickly, it slips through your fingers. The truth is nobody “gets it.” We all want stable ground, but the reality is, there is no stable ground. A healthy relationship with another entails a healthy relationship with that understanding.
© Michael Mamas, 7/06