Life presents us with one simple choice at any given moment: to keep our heart open to love and invite truth into our awareness, or to withdraw into fear and resist. We face this choice again and again, without end. It is within our closest relationships that this choice is brought to focus in ways difficult to deny.
Though the choice between love and fear is one we make all the time, even when alone, our closest relationships tend to provoke and challenge us in ways that we could otherwise too easily avoid and deny on our own. When a loved one brings a conflict, a problem, an issue to our face and demands a response, there we are, confronted with this choice. Because our loved one is wanting a response, there is no way out. Even an attempt to avoid response is a choice. This is why close relationships are catalysts for opening our hearts and bringing us to consciousness.
Yet so many people create their primary relationships from a different premise: to form an alliance with someone who will help them stay hidden, stay in their illusions, stay safe. It’s not that people think of it this way at the time, but it is what people do. In itself, this motivation for relationship is rooted more in fear than in love. So it behooves us to ask ourselves what our intentions are in our relationships. What is it we want from our closest companions? What are we offering them?
What if you looked at your close relationships as your most primary opportunities for learning and growing? If you are going to commit to someone, how about committing not to a destination, time or outcome, but to an agreed upon process of open-hearted intimacy that leads to ever greater vistas of awareness about yourself, others and the mysteries of life? It’s a commitment to letting go of anything that stands in the way of feeling a full loving unity with yourself and your loved ones. It requires making true and authentic intimacy more important than being right or justifying outworn patterns from your past.
Authentic intimacy first requires a courageous commitment to your own growth, and then a commitment to self-revealing, not withholding, to vulnerability, not fear, taking responsibility for your own happiness and well-being, not blame and shame. Most importantly, it requires a commitment to radical truth telling. This means always being willing to reveal your inarguable truth with your loved one, including the things that feel the scariest to share, but primarily and most importantly, feelings, such as fear and anger.
We call this truth inarguable because when told authentically, it is about what you are experiencing inside yourself, not your opinions, judgments and other mental abstracts, and not about the other person. It often includes information about what you are feeling in your body; how, for example, your stomach feels in a knot when your loved one does such and such. This kind of microcosmic truth, when done well, can liberate people from jealousy, competition and power struggles and build more passion and creative juice.
With this outlook, when problems and conflicts arise, it doesn’t indicate that there may be something wrong with you or others or the world. It merely reveals a cutting edge to your self-awareness, something new to learn, an opportunity for more mastery in creating peace and joy in your life. Working with a partner who shares this perspective can empower a relationship to become an exciting and vibrant field of learning and growth. When you and another commit to being allies to each other in this way, your combined synergy of trust and intentions makes it easier and easier to choose love over fear. This begins to dominate your choices in each moment, even alone, wherever you go.
Most of us did not have this modeled for us in our families or by our culture. However, it can be learned. Conscious relationship training is changing the way we all relate.
Barry Kerr, a certified life and relationship coach, and Kristine Gay, a licensed psychotherapist, own Choose Conscious Living in Madison. Both have extensive training in soul-guided healing of mind, body, heart and spiritual systems. They offer healing, coaching, therapy, mindfulness and astrology services for singles, couples and groups. For more information, visit http://www.ChooseConsciousLiving.com.