Who doesn’t love to be in love? When we are in love, we feel special, appreciated, and invincible. These feelings can last a few weeks, a few months, or even a year.
Usually, not much more beyond that because at some point, your partner is going to trigger the places in you where you believe you aren’t loveable, or acceptable, or enough.
Why? Because as A Course in Miracles tells us, every relationship is a divine assignment for maximal growth opportunity. Now that may not sound romantic, but it offers something greater than just romance– a chance to know you are whole and loved.
When conflict strikes in our relationships, the tendency is to blame the other for what they did that caused us to feel a certain way. The reality is those feelings are yours and yours alone. Any rejection, feeling less than, or unlovability you experience was there way before your partner got there. He or she only triggered those beliefs and the unworthiness behind them.
But it’s when we are triggered, we are also given the opportunity for healing those misperceptions. Through relationship – and all relationship is a chance to experience our connection to Love Itself, rather than a false separation – guilt is removed and wholeness can be restored.
Now how does this work?
When your partner behaves a certain way, our initial reaction is to judge it as good or bad, right or wrong. And from this interpretation, we get to decide if we are worthy of love or not. If they bring us flowers, we are worthy. If they cheat, we are not.
Based on our judgement (i.e. -guilt), we react positively or negatively to our partner. In other words, we make them the source of our feelings of unworthiness. We put all our hope into them to make us whole. This is what A Course calls a “special relationship” – using another to relieve our guilt and rejecting them when they trigger our fear. This isn’t love – it’s bargaining.
In order to elevate your relationship to one that encompasses real love and heals the past, we must become willing to do the following:
Step 1) Surrender the relationship to your Source to be used for a Higher purpose. A Course in Miracles reminds us, “You can place any relationship under His care and be sure that it will not result in pain if you offer Him your willingness to serve no need but His.”
Step 2) Take complete responsibility for how you feel. This doesn’t mean their actions were appropriate, it only means how you are interpreting those actions is your perception. In the spiritual realm, there is no good or bad, only choice.
Step 3) Understand your own wounds with compassion. If this person’s actions bring up feelings of being less than, know that somewhere in your life (most likely childhood), you were made to feel less than and believed it to be true. See that little child who never received acceptance, love, attention, or appreciation for who and what she or he was. This is the part of you that is hurting. Look at that beautiful child and tell him/her that you love them and no child ever deserves to feel that way. Tell that child all the things you wished someone would say when feelings of unworthiness come up. She/he needs to know you both did a good job getting through it, but now it’s time to open and know real love. Look into his or her eyes and say, “You are deeply loved.”
Step 4) Ask yourself what is the deeper desire? Go beyond the story of “I want him to help around the house”. Is it to feel supported? To feel appreciated? To know what you do or say matters? Learn of the deeper desire before you talk to your partner. In this way, you acknowledge this is your problem and are less likely to blame them. They didn’t cause it, but they can help heal it.
Step 5) Honestly express to your partner what your experience has been without blaming them or making them responsible. Use “I” statements. For instance, “When you didn’t call and tell me you were going to be late, I felt like I didn’t matter to you. It reminded me of when I was a child and no one asked for my opinion or cared what I thought. I felt alone and cried.”
Step 6) Ask for their willingness. You are gathering information by seeing if they’d be willing to help you heal. “Would you be willing to help me heal this? I know you didn’t cause it, but I’m hoping you might help me heal it.”
Step 7) If your partner is willing, tell them how they can help. “When I feel this way, I’ll let you know. I know you’re not a mind reader. What would really help in those moments is to look at me and tell me how much I matter to you.Take my opinion into consideration.” Remember, you’re not asking that they fix it, just that they be willing to help.
Step 8) Be willing to do the same for your partner -listen to his or her experience without taking the blame or getting defensive. Remember, this is just their experience and their wound. You can listen with compassion and say, “That must feel really lonely. How can I help you know I’m here?” Don’t try to fix it or give advice. Just try to understand what they are experiencing and what love you can give to their hurting self.
It is our willingness to understand, rather than blame, that allows us to listen with compassion to first, our own hurt places and offer comfort, then to invite our partner into our experience and help heal it. When we aren’t blaming, the other person is free to offer love without strings.
This type of unconditional love is Divine Love. And as A Course in Miracles will tell us, “For in the holy instant, free of the past, you see that love is in you, and you have no need to look without and snatch love guiltily from where you thought it was.”
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