Developing Awareness in Relationships
The light of awareness, the third principle of love, is the tool of tools for emerging out of the swamp of emotional struggle and suffering. It is the simplest of tools, for it is our birthright, yet it is also the most difficult of capacities to master.
For the mind’s tendency is to dodge and weave, to use denial, delusion, stupor and all sorts of other crafty means to avoid seeing what otherwise lies right in front of our nose. No one wants the pain of perceiving their own frailty, hurts and unmet needs. So though many of us pay lip-service to the great value of awareness, to some degree we all avoid it.
Arguably the finest technique for developing powers of awareness is meditation. But even in meditation we dodge and weave, seeing and experiencing what we want to see and experience and neatly avoiding the rest. My personal favorite method for gaining awareness is a combination of meditation and primary relationship.
Meditation is the finest practice for honing awareness. And primary relationship is the mirror in our face that shows us our every limitation. Every reaction to our partner, every bit of anger, hurt or blame is a wonderful red-flag, announcing that within us something is murky and in need of our attention.
Don’t Leave Your Partner….If You Are Only Running Away From Yourself
After discovering a long list of our partner’s limitations, we sometimes reach the conclusion that we have outgrown them, that maybe it is time to move on. Maybe it is. But how do we know? First, it is key to remember that all partners have their deficits. Ben Franklin’s recommendation was to keep both eyes wide open before marriage, to look very carefully at who we choose to settle down with, then to keep them half shut afterwards, once coupled, to give the other reasonable latitude.
However there is another entirely different perspective from which to view our partner. Many of their less-than-perfect behaviors are simply their reactions to our less-than-perfect behavior, their defensive response to our offensiveness. If we are withholding or cool, they may act needy or angry. If we are critical, they may be emotionally or sexually withholding.
We can greatly exaggerate in our minds a partner’s deficits when we transfer our parent’s behaviors onto them. At times, even a mate’s mild behavior; say a slightly controlling quality or a relatively minor insensitivity can cause us to project onto them a parent’s long-ago, abusively controlling or insensitive behavior. We can then enter a downward spiral of excessive anger or blame, which may actually create our partner’s controlling or insensitive behavior.
Whatever the explanation for our partner’s genuine or perceived deficits probably 99.4% of the times that we tell ourselves that we have outgrown our partner, we are fooling ourselves. (Conversely, it is often the abused people who ought to be on their way, but who are convinced they just need to try harder.)