Relationships. Always a challenge. Always an opportunity. Always a potential source of joy.
Sometimes we think immediately of an intimate or love relationship when we hear the word, but we are in relationships with others whether they be long term, intimate or just the person who is the cashier at the grocery store. Do you think of relationships in this way?
When a grocery cashier seems to be having a bad day or appears grumpy, what is your reaction? Do you get grumpy in response or do you get understanding and sympathetic? When your child is angry and upset and possibly screaming at you, do you react in kind or do you try to look at things from their perspective? When your partner has upset you, are you in reactive mode or thoughtful mode to see what you are really feeling and which lens you are looking through?
I was working with a client recently and received this guidance for her: Give yourself permission to have the reaction but choose the best response. You don’t have to follow through with the reaction. You have options to respond a different way. It can be easy to keep going with the initial knee-jerk reaction but when you are living a Conscious Life you hit the pause button, notice the reaction but choose the appropriate response.
For example, those of us who are helpers tend to jump to help another when we perceive the need. But is this the best response? Are we looking through our own lens and not allowing them to have theirs? Our reaction might be to jump in and help but perhaps the best response is to support them in finding their own solution.
Or someone might be angry and our immediate reaction is to feel that they are angry at us. They might not even be noticing us at the time but we react to their anger without pausing to see if that is the best response for us to choose at the time. Maybe our Dad hit us when he was angry and the little child in us is afraid that will happen again whenever we are around anger. Or we had a lover once who shouted angrily just before they stormed out of the door, never to be seen again, and we are reacting with our fear of being abandoned again.
There is always so much more going on in any relationship than meets the eye at the surface of things. Allow yourself the freedom to take time to notice where you are in your own feelings as you relate to others. Are YOU having a bad day and the grocery cashier being slow allows you to vent your feelings on them? Is your partner really upsetting you or are you already upset about something and they are merely triggering your reaction?
Be conscious of your feelings. If you need to, then practice going inside to assess what is true for you in this present moment. Your lens has been created by all of your life experiences and it exists at an unconscious level within you. It’s not something that you can access through analysis or your mind. You must learn to feel your feelings and to express them appropriately. But this can only happen if you take time to do the inner work, uncover what exists at the unconscious level and bring it into your awareness.
The most important relationship you have is the one with yourself. Are you looking at yourself through a harsh, judgmental lens, created from your past experiences? Or is your lens foggy with misconceptions or blurry images that you haven’t taken the time to examine and clear up? Maybe the place to start is to work on this internal relationship first. Then you can change the prescription on your lens and see all your other relationships in a new light!
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