si dawson

experiments in self-improvement

Month: September, 2012

Why Relationships Die

Relationships break up for many obvious reasons – physical, emotional or psychological violence. Alcohol or drugs. Distance. Infidelity. Money stress. Death. Or even simply growing apart – one partner grows, the other doesn’t.

Under all this though, there’s one core reason most relationships die.

It’s the same reason buildings rot away and collapse: Lack of regular care.

Now, I’m not saying you should lacquer your partner every summer (unless that’s their thing of course), it’s a little more subtle than that.

See, the reason relationships die is because of a gradual piling up of resentments.

Resentments about what?

Let’s step back a little first and I’ll explain.

People come into our lives (ie, we have relationships with them) to help us grow.

How do they do that? Well, usually by pissing us off.

Why?

Because we attract people that reflect us; both our strengths and our weaknesses.

So, they’re gonna rub up against those weaknesses, irritating us – just like a grain of sand in an oyster – and potentially with exactly the same outcome.

When our frailties are exposed like this, letting it go can be easier said than done.

Additionally, the closer someone is emotionally the more they’re able to influence us – for better or worse. This is why our family (particularly our parents) get under our skin so often.

On top of all this, the basic experience of building a relationship with someone requires compromise and growth by both parties.

So every time we have one of these natural little upsets we’re given a choice: hang on or let it go?

  • If you’re still bothered by something that happened a month ago, you’re collecting resentment.
  • If you’re fearful they’re going to behave as they have in the past, you’re collecting resentment.
  • If there’s things you wish they wouldn’t do any more, you’re collecting resentment.
  • If there’s things you wish they would do but don’t, you’re collecting resentment.

What typically happens is that we happily burble along sharing our lives. All the while these resentments are slowly building up, until eventually it’s all too much and everything explodes.

Depending on the temperaments involved, this may happen sooner or later.

This is all a bit miserable, so what’s the solution?

As I mentioned above: regular care.

In terms of relationships rather than houses, we’re talking daily if not minute-by-minute care. A little bit often vs lots when desperation strikes.

Couples often head off to marriage counselling in an attempt to repair twenty years of cumulative damage; this isn’t practical.

Much simpler and easier is simply to commit to dumping everything that comes up, immediately.

How do you do this?

As with everything, you simply make a choice.

What is more important – being loving to this person, or hanging on to this resentment?

So often we self-justify feeling crappy “I’m allowed to be upset or angry, they hurt me!” – but really, why do this?

Isn’t it better to feel good?

And, after all, we love this person. Surely being unconditionally loving is better than only loving them if they behave exactly how we want. For a start, that’s trying to control them. Secondly, we never feel better than when we’re being completely loving, regardless of their behaviour.

If we let go of the resentment as soon as it happens, we shift quickly back into feeling loving and feeling great again.

The more we let go of, the better we feel. Not only that, but the easier it is to love that person. The deeper our love together grows.

Essentially, we have a choice:

  1. We can hang on to our resentments until things inevitably explode
  2. We can choose to let go of everything as soon as it comes up

Or, put another way:

  1. We can feel crappier and crappier until we can’t stand to be around them
  2. We can feel better and better until our love together is burning hotter than the sun

Seems a little silly to even have to choose, but you know, free will. Yadda yadda yadda.

So how do we let go of stuff? Well, all the usual ways I’ve talked about endlessly.

In general though, the simplest way is to keep all of your attention on loving the hell out of them. Don’t leave any free to focus on whatever-it-is. Constantly pull your attention back to pouring love out of your heart and into theirs. Let everything else go. Whatever they’re doing, whatever they’re saying, you’re going to be 100% loving, all your energy unreservedly embracing them.

Here’s the funny thing with all this.

When you’re truly in that space, letting go as soon as anything comes up?

Whatever it is that is happening doesn’t have a chance to hurt you. Not even slightly.

I’ve been in situations, with someone I cared about enormously, where they were saying the most vile, violent things to me (they had their own shit going on at the time) – and because I was so focused on loving them, what they said didn’t even connect. There was absolutely zero pain or damage from it, even later.

Not a great thing to have happen maybe, but a damn good learning experience. Particularly in terms of reminding me – our behaviour is always our choice.

She chose to be hateful. I chose to be loving. As a result, I came out of it feeling like a million bucks. How is that even possible? I don’t know, but it sure as hell works.

Of course, the usual caveats apply. Being loving doesn’t mean you have to be stupid. Eg, if I’d loved and respected myself more, I wouldn’t have put myself in the above situation in the first place.

If only one party is loving, then the other person will continue to pile up resentments (with the inevitable conclusion). Obviously, the optimal solution is if both of you make this choice. If only you do then at least you’ll feel great, even if they choose to feel crappy.

Loving the hell out of each other doesn’t mean you necessarily have to be together forever. However, when you’re in that loving place, you can make the optimal choice for both of you. If it’s the right choice, you can end things in a loving way, without an ugly death.

All the junk that normally buffets you around is absent, freeing you to do what’s best for both of you.

Being loving means making loving decisions. For you. For them.

It also beats the hell out of some bullshit resentment from months or years ago making those decisions for us – killing our relationships without us having any say whatsoever.

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    This Crappy Feeling

    It can be tricky to put our finger on exactly why we might be feeling crappy.

    Feelings come and feelings go. It’s just energy moving through us. Not good, not bad. Just energy.

    Our subconscious moves in mysterious ways. Thoughts and memories often jiggle around below the surface, too deeply buried for us to consciously identify what they are.

    Sometimes it’s our mind protecting us from something traumatic. Sometimes it’s merely unpleasant and we’d rather not think about it.

    Regardless, there’s still an awful lot going on that we can’t get to. At least, not consciously.

    The problem is, these icebergs still affect us. We still feel crappy when we’re having crappy thoughts, even if we don’t know exactly what those thoughts are.

    What to do, what to do?

    Ahh, it’s a sticky one.

    Here’s the thing though: it doesn’t matter why we’re having these feelings.

    If you don’t know what a feeling is about within a second or two, it’s generally not worth wasting any more time analysing it.

    If you don’t know it now? Let it go.

    It’s a common trap, to get tied up in knots trying to figure something out.

    Letting go of this “figuring it out” is always a huge step forward.

    The problem with “figuring it out” is that it keeps us connected to the crappy feeling. All that mental energy keeps us picking away at the crappiness, pulling it closer to us. What you resist, persists.

    If you’re feeling crappy, there’s only one thing that really matters, and that’s to stop feeling crappy. To feel good again.

    With that in mind, here’s what works super well:

    With any feeling, if we pay attention we can feel it in our body. It’s called a feeling for a reason, right? Coz we can feel it. Big duh there.

    If you quieten down a bit, you can generally become aware of just where in your body that feeling is. How big it is. Where it’s centred, and so on. Sometimes that feeling might have a colour, a level of tension, a texture, or whatever. It’s not a big deal either way though (remember: don’t try to figure it out).

    For me, I typically feel things in my chest or stomach, but sometimes up into my neck and head as well.

    You can tune yourself into the specific feeling (help bring it up to the surface) by naming it “This Crappy Feeling About Blah”, “Helplessness About Yadda” or whatever feels most write and obvious. Tapping your karate chop point (squishy side of your hand between little finger and wrist, where you’d karate chop someone) also helps.

    So, just like before, imagine a balloon above you. Then just grab the whole feeling and throw it up into the balloon. Finally, check again, see if any of that feeling is still left, grab what remains and flick that up there too.

    Once you’re done, send the balloon out somewhere far away and blow it up, same as always.

    Alternatively, you can simply choose to just let the feeling go. It’s your intent that’s doing the magic here.

    I just find there’s something about that last stage, of sending the balloon off and blowing it up. It’s a very definite “Ok, I’m done with you now. You’re gone. Forever.”

    Really though, it’s exactly the same as letting go of physical tension. How hard is it to relax a tensed fist?

    Simple.

    Same thing here.

    It turns out, as much as we love using our brains, and we love to discover what everything is about – what’s this feeling, what’s that feeling – we don’t have to.

    All we have to do is connect to this crappy feeling, and choose to let it go.

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      Breaking Unhealthy Relationship Ties

      When I was growing up, Mum told me “every person you have sex with, you leave a little bit of yourself behind.

      Being a teenager at the time, I thought she was on crack (also, mothers, what do they know? Nothing. Obviously.)

      I’ve had a decade or two to think about it since then (while gaining a clue or three), and I now think not only was she right, she didn’t go far enough.

      Yes, being physically intimate with someone creates energetic ties that never really go away.

      Remember the first person you ever had sex with? Yeah, that.

      It’s not just  our sexual interactions though. Any relationship has an energetic component. The more emotionally intense the interaction, the stronger that connection.

      This is why our parents can drive us so bonkers. There’s generally only one person we’ve spent nine months living inside of, and it’s hard to top that in terms of physical closeness.

      So where does a “relationship” start? Well, think about a small shop you go into regularly. You say hi to the proprietor, maybe comment on the weather. That’s a relationship.

      Smile at someone on the street? That’s a relationship. Now, it’s a tiny flickering of light compared to the thunder and lightning that embodies most intimate relationships, but it’s a relationship all the same.

      Of course, people we walk past on the street aren’t typically the ones that cause us problems (unless you’ve ever been mugged).

      No, the most problematic relationships are ex-relationships.

      Ex partners. Friends that have left our lives. Old schoolmates. And so on.

      Why are they a problem? Because they continue to take up psychic space. This translates to sucking time and attention from our lives. If there’s one thing we should be jealously guarding it’s those, uhh, two things. If there’s two things we should be jealously guarding, it’s our time, attention and energy. Three things! The three things we should be jealously guarding!

      We’re never getting this time back. We have limited attention and ever increasing demands on it.

      Every thought or feeling we have about an ex-relationship is psychic drag.

      So, how do we stop this?

      Obviously, tools like EFT or releasing can help a lot – particularly if there’s been emotional trauma. In other words, anything that upset us. That’s (relatively) easy to clear out.

      But what about the subtler aspects? The fact that you keep thinking about an ex, or that whenever you hear about them it pisses you off or depresses you?

      Here’s what I’ve found works incredibly well for me:

      • Imagine the person in front of you
      • See that there is a white cord connecting your hearts. Energy flows down this between you.
      • The more significant the relationship, the bigger the cord. A guy you smile at in the street may be only a hair’s breadth; your parents, gigantic.
      • When the relationship is super healthy, this cord will be glowing white. If you’re throwing shit back and forth, there’ll be black gunk choking the cord, or twisting it up.

      Don’t panic if this all sounds a bit airy fairy and whacked out, it’s just a useful visual representation.

      Remember how a map is only an abstracted representation of reality, not reality itself? Or in an extreme case, the London tube map which is nothing at all like reality; it just makes it a damn sight easier to get around London.

      Same thing here.

      The reason this person is still taking up psychic space is because you still have a strong connection to them, with lots of crap in that connection. Lots of thoughts, lots of feelings.

      Once you can see (or feel) the cord there:

      1. Imagine a huge balloon (or a rose – ie, just a neutral object), well away from you, outside your house.
      2. Grab the cord from between you, and throw it into the balloon.
      3. Make sure the entire cord and any remaining black gunk in you (or them) is sucked up with it, into the balloon. This translates to all your thoughts and all your feelings about them.
      4. Once you feel clear and it’s all in there, explode the balloon making sure it all disappears into tiny pieces (feel free to blow it up several times).

      This is obviously a strongly visual approach. If you’re not such a visual person (maybe you’re more kinaesthetic), you might find a different method works better. Eg, feel all those feelings and thoughts as a giant ball of energy, and throw that  into the balloon.

      As always, trust your gut.

      The specifics don’t matter too much. It’s about intent. It (like all of life) is just a choice.

      Often I find I have to do this technique a few times to deeply clear things out. I do it, then wait an hour or two and check it all again, see how I feel about that person. If I feel there are remnants still hanging around, I do it again.

      People are complicated. Relationships, complication squared.

      It may take a few goes as you work down the layers if you have a lot of history with that person or the issues are complex. Each layer is deeper, but generally easier and quicker than the layer before.

      This is ok. It’s still a damn sight easier and faster than spending years thinking, worrying or feeling crappy about someone who’s no longer in your life.


      Now, here’s another use for this technique that I discovered just the other day.

      Apply it to people still in your life.

      Why?

      Well, because in any relationship things happen. Resentments, differences,  difficulties build up.

      Most of these are pretty trivial, but they still colour the quality of our interactions. It’s still psychic drag.

      By pooling all this junk together and throwing it out – in other words, by consciously choosing to let go of any of the crap that has built up – we free ourselves to have a pure, loving connection with that person.

      I did this last week with someone who’d been causing me a lot of stress. I had (of course) been trying to control them, to change their behaviour.

      They, being at least as obstinate as I am, were having none of it.

      Eventually I realised what I’d been doing and used the above technique. I took all the crap between us (everything I could think of I just added to the pile “yep, that… and that… yep, and that…”), threw it into a balloon & blew the damn lot up. I immediately felt a ton lighter and happier. I did it a couple more times over the next hour or two.

      Total time taken? Two, maybe three minutes.

      What was I actually doing? I was choosing to let go of all nonloving thoughts towards this person. Deciding that being in a peaceful place and being loving was far more important than holding onto the angst.

      This choice may have been helped by the fact that all I was really achieving was stressing myself out and being even more bothered when their behaviour didn’t change. Ha ha. Oops!

      Ultimately, carrying negative emotions around mostly just hurts ourselves.

      Once I’d done this a couple of times, the only feelings I had left for them were loving. It was quite an amazing transition. I tried and failed to muster any opinion at all about their so called “crappy behaviour“. If they acted like that again.. well.. uhh.. I couldn’t even imagine it. Most weird.

      Anyway, I felt great, so what did it matter any more?

      Oh, except the next day they got in touch with me. They’d decided to stop that specific behaviour, “I realised it was just me being obstinate,” they said, “and I don’t want to hurt you, I want to support you.”

      Coincidence, right? *cough*

       

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