Timeless You: Healthy Relationships


I’ve grown accustomed to being alone. I don’t spend my days surrounded by many people. There are weeks when the only people I interact with are my husband and the grocery store cashier. Is that strange?

It didn’t used to be like that. I used to engage with dozens of people each day. The more I interacted with people, the easier it got. I’ve always felt I’ve worn masks to hide my truth from others—each person requiring a slightly different variation of shield—but the more practice I got wearing them, the easier it got to hide while playing the game; it became second nature. But that was a while ago. Then I moved to a place where I was too different from everyone else and none of my masks helped me assimilate. The more misunderstood I felt, the more I detached. I suppose I haven’t felt that exuberance and energy that comes from feeling loved by a community in quite some time. I guess that’s why I feel withered.

A couple of days ago, I read God Speaks: A Dialogue by Kyle Sutton. I wasn’t planning on reading it but something drew me to open it. From title page to page one, I began to read. At page 85, I was fully engaged in the messages in this little inconspicuous book that unexpectedly landed on my desk. Ultimately, it reminded me of a fundamental principle of happiness: you get what you give. In the context of my relationships, I’m getting the same type of relationship that I’m offering. In my case, it’s a whole lot of distance and strained polite conversation. But I want more. I invite more into my life. I don’t blame anyone for the toxic relationships in my life because I’m creating them when I choose to close myself off from others. Yes, there are the poisonous people you inherently want to separate yourself from in the name of self-preservation, but I’m talking about the majority of relationships that could have worked out so much better if I had only stopped imposing conditions on how a friend should be and simply let it be. The book talks a lot about unconditional love—something I’ve forgotten to give to the people in my life, including myself. When it comes down to it, I’d like to see what kind of person I can become if I open myself up to the possibilities in this world, and I think I have to start with loving myself; allowing loving relationships into my life will follow naturally as a result.

It’s difficult—unpleasant, really—to admit that the people in our lives are reflections of ourselves. You don’t like the people around you? That’s probably because they’re reflecting something at you that you don’t like about yourself. Case in point: the person I’ve described above is someone with whom I had really wanted to hit it off. He was fun, funny, and relaxed. A few months into our friendship, little things about his personality started to rub me the wrong way but I tried to let them slide because I really wanted this friendship to work. It’s been five years since I met him, and I don’t think we’ve spoken in the last two. I have no idea what he thinks happened, but I know that I just couldn’t see the good in him anymore; everything he did bothered me, all I could do when I was around him was pick out the things I wish he’d change about himself.

Fast-forward to this innocent worksheet exercise and I have confirmation of what I suspected was the real issue that drove us apart: me. The list I put together on how horrible he is really reflects traits in my own personality that I’d prefer admitting were not there. But when I’m honest with myself, I have to admit that I am grumpy, I do judge people for all the things they could be doing better, and that’s just the start. It’s so hurtful to imagine people putting together similar lists about me and my behavior toward them. So as I take a much needed breath, I set my intention to create an environment within my interactions with others that fosters unconditional love; one that makes everyone, including myself, feel open to receiving kindness and acceptance. I want to see if my relationships will turn out differently when I approach them from a place of understanding. The only thing is…I have a much easier time applying this holistic approach to new relationships, but imagining trying to mend recent friendships seems too painful.

The above guidelines are a fantastic tool to help any of us deal with any situation. Using the STOP formula when confronted with difficult situations is one thing, but how about using it just before you answer the telephone (as Deepak suggests)? How different would our conversations be with one another if we first took the time to STOP?

It’s 6:21 on a Saturday morning. I’ve had about 6 minutes and 21 seconds to dedicate to this course in the last week. But in this moment, everyone is asleep, my bowl of matcha is at arm’s length, and I’ve found space for myself. I’m experiencing the early signs of a plugged duct (just took a dose of poke root, so it should be gone by tomorrow), my sinus headache is reminding me that I have yet to knock this cold, and I’m starting to recognize a repeating thought pattern of worry playing itself out in my head: “What if you never loose this pregnancy weight? What if you’ve hit another plateau? What if all the clothes you’ve saved from your smaller you are going to end up in a donation pile of resignation, regret, and loathing?” …I couldn’t think of a more ideal time to begin a simple meditation on releasing emotional blocks.

Who am I?

The first is a sensation: a lumpy, blobby body.
The second is an image: a mist of light floating to the right and above that body.
The next is an awareness: a distinct impression that the light is more conscious than the body, more free and unencumbered.

Upon first asking myself the question of Who am I?, I was hoping to get an easy answer like, “You’re a fireman, of course!” or “You’re the person who will be living at X address in 3 months.” Who am I? evokes such insecurity—a lack of confidence in all the choices I’ve made so far because they’ve been made from this plain of physical confusion and self-consciousness. It’s almost as though a wise elder is asking a child a question to which the answer is so obvious that it’s impossible for the child to see it. Impossible unless, and only when, the blocks are released.

What do I want?

The first is an image: a yoga studio, a centered me.
The second is a sensation: a blissful sense of accomplishment, a greater comfort in my own skin.
The next is a word: time.

Balance is so important in life. Without balance, we start to live a contorted life we want to hide from others, a twisted story that gets tangled too easily. Balance isn’t about taking your vacation days before they expire or setting goals and targets to reach our optimal efficiency. Balance is being happy with yourself: whatever you need to do to make that happen, do it. For me, balance—in this moment—looks like a bit of “me time” where I make space to heal my physical body, water the beds of my creative essence, and nourish myself with self-acceptance.

What am I carrying with me from my past that is blocking my emotional freedom?

Self-hatred.

How is this hurting me and preventing me from other opportunities?

It’s blocking my ability to love myself, and thus to show love to the world around me. Without expressing love, I’m not able to freely receive it. Without the ability to receive love, all opportunities of abundance and prosperity—in all their forms—are stunted.

How might my life improve if I overcome this block?

You will find your passion. You will find your purpose. You will understand your soul’s desire in this lifetime.

What small action can I make, or decision can I make, to overcome this problem?

Accept that you are here to live a human experience. Accept that this is the perfect form of expression in this lifetime. Allow yourself to take ownership of your life. Allow things to be, without judgment or comparison. You are here now, and this is the perfect place for you to be, now. Your self-hatred comes from your refusal to embrace this life as a step on your journey, but it is as much for them as it is for you. Take hold of the reigns whipping the wind and guide the horse and carriage to a serene place of rest. The turmoil, the troubles, the tightness in your body are all manifestations of your struggle. Find your place of rest and park. Take a moment to look around and breathe. This is your time.

Today, I will listen. I will stop composing my response while the other person is talking, and I will listen. I will not judge them while they’re talking for the words they choose or their posture or hand gestures, and I will listen instead. I will give another person the only gift they’re really asking for: to be heard. I will leave my drama, set it aside, and I will listen. I will look deeply in the other person’s eyes, and I will listen with my soul. I will open my heart to the message behind the message, and I will listen. I will not do this because I want the same in return or because I want bonus points for later; I will simply listen because it is a gift available for me to give.

Course 3 complete. Final thoughts: the first thought that comes to mind on this dewy Sunday morning as the early birds begin to chirp at one another and the sun starts to turn the night sky shades of pink and gray, is that taking a moment to reflect on my experience of each course is enabling me to synthesize my learning into a whole greater than its parts. In other words: I’m learning more than I would if I were just clicking the “Next” button after completing each lesson. There is no feature designed into this course that allows students to reflect on their shifts of perception once they reach each milestone, and I think that would add a further level of depth to this online learning experience. The closest course feature that affords further reflection is the community discussion area, but with +700 unread comments to plough through, I’m inclined to ignore that course area and keep working through the material myself as I occasionally engage in discussion with a few students in the comments section at the end of each page.

In terms of my final thoughts on the content of this third course on healthy relationships, I can’t deny that I have a lot of room for improvement in my relationship with myself. I think the core of my healing centers on my lack of acceptance of being human. Until recently, I’ve shunned the human experience and have had a difficult time accepting the state of the world around me. On a subconscious level, this planet doesn’t look the way I thought it would or how I’m used to planets looking. I’ve continuously been striving to seek out a place that reminds me of home and that makes me feel accepted, comfortable in my own skin. On a mental level, I’ve understood that this sense of contentment and belonging comes first from accepting myself—loving myself—and then from radiating that unconditional love into my environment, but transferring a mental understanding into a practical one is a challenging and abstract experience. The moment I realized, while working through the activities in this third course, that accepting my human experience is the first step in finding happiness in this life, a light bulb went off. I think I get why I’ve struggled with this body for so long, and why so many of my relationships have lacked deep emotional connection. If I’m going to have a full, rich, meaningful human experience, I first have to accept that I’m human.

1 Comment

  1. Teta Pisana says:

    I’ve experienced the “stop formula” and know it responds well … I still have to practice more

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