I was once driving down the road and another driver pulled his car right in front of me, running me right off the road onto the shoulder. I was mad and thought, “What a jerk.” But then the next moment I began laughing. There is the reality that the guy’s a jerk. But, then again, you never know.
The Relationship with… principle permeates everything. All too often, the current state of the object of our attention receives too much of our attention. In actuality, the quality of our relationship with that object is critically important. A healthy Relationship with… is the key to success. This is true of our relationship with people and situations, be they personal, social, or global.
A healthy Relationship with… is not just an attitude or philosophy to cling to. Developing a healthy Relationship with… starts with cultivating a healthy life—a life freed from conditioning.
The creation of a healthy relationship with yourself is of critical importance. It is not so much about getting rid of your conditioning. It is more about cultivating a healthy relationship with your conditioning. This includes aspects of yourself that you do not like, such as anger. Having a healthy relationship with anger is the best way to heal it. Oftentimes our unhealthy relationship with anger can include the attitude that it is never alright to be angry. How deeply is your anger conditioned and impregnated into your being? Is it a result of deep stress in the physiology or is it just a facet of a normal life to occasionally get angry?
In the example above, it was normal and even healthy for me to get angry for a moment. But it was also healthy to see beyond the anger. The driver could be a wonderful and noble person who had a momentary lapse of judgment or something could have blocked his vision temporarily.
If you cannot see beyond the anger, that is, if your relationship with it is not healthy, you might spend the rest of the day steaming or snapping at people because people are such jerks. On the other hand, if you say, “What a jerk,” but feel bad about yourself for calling somebody a jerk for the next three weeks, you do not have a healthy relationship with your anger either. Creating a healthy relationship with your anger permits you to realize that at one minute you could call the guy a jerk, and the next minute you could laugh about the absurdity of doing so.
Your anger is not the problem. Your relationship with your anger is what needs to be explored. If you have been conditioned to get angry, exploring your relationship with anger can help dissolve away your anger. On the other hand if you are trying to just get rid of your anger, you may be attempting to align with some idealized yet invalid notion of a healthy and evolved person, turning yourself into a conditioned automaton. You will never live up to it because it is out/in—it is not really who you are. However, this must not be used as an excuse to get angry any time you want.
Lack of money is a much bigger problem when your relationship with that lack is not healthy. If your relationship with it is healthy, money can be acquired. Likewise, the notion of death is far more problematic if your relationship with it is unhealthy. Our difficulties with other people generally have more to do with our unhealthy Relationship with… than with the flaws of the other person.
It is a relationship with life in general. It is not the result of a philosophy. It is a physiological state that births an appropriate philosophy for any given situation. For example, Steve longed to be wealthy. His longing was at first so intense that it crippled him. He resented people with wealth and was so overwhelmed by his lack of it that he couldn’t move forward. The whole problem seemed too huge. The wealth he longed for seemed so far away that to work toward it seemed hopeless. As a result, he lived his life in devastation, psychologically impaired by his unhealthy relationship with money.
In contrast, a healthy relationship with the desire for money enables the person to take a long-term, methodical approach to acquiring wealth. When the relationship with money is healthy, the longing for it inspires one to move forward in a practical manner.
Greed too, can be another unhealthy relationship with the desire for wealth. Greed for wealth can be the seed for irrational attempts to attain it. Greed can alienate you from the people who would otherwise assist you in attaining wealth. What an unhealthy relationship with money or anything else looks like is highly individual. In the case of desire for wealth, things such as greed, fear, resentment, preoccupation, sense of personal failure, pride and superiority can all be examples of an unhealthy relationship with money.
Think of a problem you have in your life. Ask yourself what your relationship with that problem is. How does that relationship compound the problem? How does it retard your progress? How does it interfere with your resolution to the problem?
Oftentimes one’s relationship with a problem is so unhealthy that it puts one in a doublebind with no perceivable solution. For example, let’s say you see yourself as able to handle any problem that comes your way. If a big problem occurs, it might be tempting to try to be more than you are (superhuman) and also feel like no one can know that you’re not really on top of things. It’s a no-win situation with no perceivable solution.
Taking the time to develop a healthy relationship with something can be far more beneficial than trying to change that something. Paradoxically, shifting your relationship with “the way something is” can be the most powerful means by which you can transform that something.
© Michael Mamas, 1/06