Updated: Sep 1
Mindfulness and Relationship: How to Replace Angst With Love Through Being Mindful
This Weeks Video
Mindfulness is remembering in each moment that you have a choice to be kinder to yourself, to others and to the planet.
Almost all conflict in relationship arises from perceived core needs (the source of which is mostly unconsciousness) not being met. I am sure this observation has some holes in it, but when I look at my own relationship history, which has many bitter/sweet moments, this rings true. Often times the contentious issue in a relationship is more of a symptom, sometimes quite far removed from the cause. Typically, the remedy is sought in treating the symptom and not the cause, endemic of the current allopathic approach to health care. Let me be clear that treatment of the symptoms are essential, but as the old adage says, if you always do what you have always done…
I have been a complementary health professional most of my life. I recall being asked to see a middle aged woman who had been suffering from unresolved, sever sciatic pain. She had spent many months seeking medical help and as was often the case for me, I was ‘their last resort’. The doctors were now recommending surgical intervention. They couldn’t find the cause. I respect medical diagnostics enough to know that if they couldn’t find anything in the ‘typical’ places that cause sciatica, then I needed to look elsewhere. The sciatic nerve at the level of the knee breaks into the tibial and femoral nerve that then continue down to the ankle and foot.
I was aware that nerve pain can be created by distal (further away from) triggers, and so I asked this woman if prior to getting the sciatic pain she had hurt her ankle or lower leg. She went on explain that this all began after she had twisted her ankle and had tried to explain that to the doctors. Their attention was directed towards the sciatic nerve roots in the spine etc. With the appropriate checks, after doing some soft-tissue releases, I proceeded to apply a small adjustment that ‘realigns’ the fibula with the tibia (the two bones in the lower leg), which instantly brought relief. I suggested that it could take up to12 weeks for it to be fully resolved, as the nerve inflammation may take time to resolve. Within a week 90% of the pain was resolved, by 10 weeks she was completely pain free. A slight displacement of the fibula was causing enough tension in the tissues of the leg to ‘entrap’ the tibial and fibula nerves which referred on up the leg into the sciatic nerve.
The key to finding the cause of ‘sciatic pain’ in relationship is to find and treat the cause, not just the symptom. Obviously, as with physical pain, sometimes we have to take a pain killer, and some people do that in relationship issues, in the form of drugs and alcohol, or working longer hours for example. And although these distraction strategies might help relieve the symptoms, it doesn’t treat the cause. Typically people think that if they were to leave their stressful relationship they could find someone else who’s more compatible and life would improve. As one of my teachers explained, you can’t change a movie by changing the screen, you have to change what’s being projected.
So many metaphors! So let’s get down to it. I alluded to this idea of ‘perceived core needs’ being a symptom, which arose from a deeper cause which I also suggested was unconscious to most people. An important hint for the cause of our perceived needs can be found in a quote attributed to Aristotle. “Give me a boy until he is seven, and I will give you the man”. This suggests that how we appear as an adult is a result of what ever took place in our formative years (by age seven). What Aristotle was suggesting, and what is contemporarily accepted, is the notion that through childhood programming we develop a belief system about who we are and what the world is, such that it will continue to inform our reality until the day we die. What arises from our programming is the belief that we have about our own worth.
In most cases, our perceived worth is one form or another of feeling loveless or unloveable, which forms the foundation to our perceived needs. A narrative eventually forms which says, “If I get my needs met in a certain way then I will have the love that I want, I will have value.” Of course if those needs aren’t met then I hurt! And it goes without saying, you believe that you can’t possibly be the one stopping your needs being met, and so you naturally look for someone else to blame, which typically is the person with which you are in relationship.
My childhood narrative emerged believing that in spite of walking a ’not-typical’ path through life, if I worked hard at whatever I was doing, I could still earn people’s respect. And if I had the respect of people I must have value! As I progressed into adulthood, how I related to the world was driven by my narrative. The problem with being motivated by the narrative, is that the seven year old doesn’t actually know what approval or being loved looks like and it becomes a mirage. The result being that we think we are just about to get what we’ve wanted and it disappears before our eyes, only to reappear in the distance once more. For as long as we believe that reality is formed from without us, and not within us, our perceived needs will always be illusive.
My drivenness for being respected was the main cause for the arguments in my marriage that eventually ended up in divorce. I was so hungry for it I worked long hours, and had several key positions in community organisations. When that mirage faded, I saw the opportunity to be an international speaker, which saw me travelling away from my home for many months of the year. I was absent for many of the later adolescent years of my children. You can imagine the arguments that might have arisen. As ‘they’ say, you can’t change what you can’t see.
I was eventually brought to the place where I could see my narrative and only then was I able to see that the love I sought couldn’t be found without, only within. Seeing your narrative and observing the way it informs your reality (especially those places of tension in a relationship) makes it possible to turn up differently in relationship. And this is where mindfulness enters.
The key to experiencing a truly loving relationship is in being mindful of your seven year old’s narrative. That means, when you begin to feel discombobulated with another, you stop and remember that you have a choice. You can either resort to your habitual narrative that you have acted out your whole life, which is typically blame and projection, or you can consider a kinder alternative which includes seeing your discombobulated state of consciousness as a call for help. When you the adult takes over from you the child, it can see what the child really needs - love and understanding, since the real need arises from feeling loveless and unlovable.
I now am in a relationship with someone who is also aware of her childhood narrative, which for her was about needing to be the favourite. It doesn’t take much to imagine the scenarios that could emerge where one person seeks respect from the world, and the other needs to be the favourite. Because we are both committed to being mindful of the kinder alternative, when either of us begin to feel tension in the relationship we stop and openly discuss how our seven year old might be turning up right now, and make the choice to be patient, understanding and supportive while we stay in awareness of what’s going on. This level of ‘in to me see’ (intimacy) results in connectedness, respect and support.
The Enhances Awareness Program helps participants to identify their narrative and develop an awareness of the kinder alternatives. This makes being mindful ‘real’ and naturally results in less conflict in relationship, and much more connectedness. Sometimes it brings clarity to the impasse of a relationship, which in some cases could bring it to a close. However, it also sets one up for a more connected engagement in relationship in the future, not a case of a new ‘actor’ turning up, playing the same old role!
Read More From This Series
The other topics that will be explored throughout this series over the upcoming months are (in no particular order):
Mindfulness and The Feminine – How to honour the feminine aspects of our lives.
Mindfulness and The Masculine – How to honour to the masculine aspects of our lives.
Mindfulness and Depression – How to relate to depression differently through being mindful.
Mindfulness and Ageing – How to mindfully engage getting old.
Mindfulness and Death – How mindfulness brings a new perception to death.
Mindfulness and Addictions – How to sustainably change your addictions through being mindful.
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