We are relational beings and the essence of our relationships is love. Problems arise when we relate to fear or other disturbing emotions. Jealousy, pride or anger drives us away from ourselves by hiding our relationships in dissatisfaction and isolation.
The observation of our mind and its internal dynamics reveals to us the integrated mechanisms that we mobilize in matters of relationship. Exploring our interpersonal relationship, our experiences, will lead us to understand the relationship we establish with others, And largely with the different systems: family, educational, social, peer groups …
Know our relational dimension
Immersing ourselves in our relational world is a process that takes time and large doses of love to observe, accept and heal.. If we feel that something is not working well and want to start a process of change, it is important to be prepared to start with three steps:
- Awareness: Observe and be honest with us about where we came from.
- Motivation: is the engine to move forward. Trust that transformation is possible.
- Integration: integrating what we learn into our mental continuum. Create new roads to replace those that hurt us.
Let’s take a look at some clues to find out how we relate.
The relationship to oneself (intrapersonal)
We tend to put little awareness into ourselves and a lot of what the other person is doing or saying. The way we let ourselves get carried away by what’s going on in our minds, how we think our thoughts, how we experience our emotions, what we refuse, allow, boycott … all of this, reveals how we relate to ourselves.
Often times, thoughts “think of us”, “emotions live on us”, “the spirit enchains us”, and so we go through “a life that lives on us” instead of living it with fullness and openness. We are great strangers to ourselves, And most of the time, our worst enemies.
Mental dynamics have its roots in our early years of life. We incorporate beliefs, fears, or mandates that shape our binding frame of reference. If we grow up in a secure and reliable system, we will experience open and positive relationships. A hostile or uncertain environment will keep us alert in a threatening and insecure world that will lead us to suspicion and minimize contact with others for fear of being hurt.
If we have decided to improve our relationships, we can broaden our vision and rely on the ability to transform them.
Richard Davidson, PhD in Neuropsychology, notes that “the basis of a healthy brain is kindness, and it can be trained.” As human beings, we know that the only way we feel full is in love. This brings us closer to the certainty that it is only through benevolent love, as an inherent quality, that we can create antidotes to deactivate what hurts us and improve the qualities that bring us closer to the relationship of the heart.
Self-demand, internal judgment, criticism are mechanisms that take us away from intrapersonal connection. and co-emerging from others. Identifying when and how these internal trends arise will allow us to deactivate them and replace them with more respectful trends.
The relationship with our experience
Psychological and spiritual traditions give us different perspectives to facilitate encountering our experiences in a more healing and loving way. If we have decided to change the way we relate, we need to incorporate our experiences in the best possible way.. As Aldous Huxley says, “The experience is not what happens to you, but what you do with what happens to you”.
Considering how we relate to our experiences and their intensity, we can set ourselves apart 3 approaches and two different positions, as victims of circumstances or as experiential learners.
Turn our experiences into simple stories with little emotional involvement
The observer mentally builds his own story with all the learned mechanisms to avoid the painful and the inappropriate. As conceptual observers we live and experience, however we miss the profound transformation that can come from intimate connection with our reality.
By maintaining energy in the cognitive and behavioral realms, by analyzing and reflecting, the experiences will remain superficial and poor. As if a part of our life is slipping in a way that we do not allow it to “fit in” deeply. We can prevent the entry of love, put flaws in what makes us feel good, or come to reject any interesting life experience. This posture is conditioned by fear and will keep us away from situations that can be stimulating..
Fear protects us from what we don’t want, but it doesn’t bring us closer to what we want. Excessive defensive mechanisms, if left unworked and transformed, can isolate us emotionally and relationshipally.
When painful experiences take hold, they can make us victims. We can dramatically exaggerate our experience through a character or downplay the consequences by emphasizing traumatic events..
Likewise, if we fall into the role of victim, we will be devitalized and without the energy to deal with our conflicts. We disconnect from ourselves and live on a false self, a false self that we have adopted to survive by adjusting to the environment in the least painful way possible.
To observe from our unidentified witness the experience felt
Through this process, we allow ourselves to learn from experience; we become unidentified observers of what is going on. We open ourselves to what spontaneously guides us to find answers.
At this stage, it is important to allow yourself to be in contact with our bodily sensations and to learn to decode what they store in a more distant space. If we are permeable to our experience and let our consciousness explore it on a deep level, our heart will be open and receptive by feeling free and awake.
It’s a way to open up to a healthy relationship. We value the presence of the purest of our being at every moment of our existence. For example, we feel anger at a wrong answer; instead of throwing it at ‘the other’, we focus on the impact of the emotion on ourselves. We are deploying our unidentified internal witness. We observe how it affects our body: it generates heat, tension, the urge to scream, itching …
this this will allow us to give a response to what happened that is less responsive and more thoughtful. It is based on not feeding our mind with disturbing emotion, stopping before causing an escalation of consequences and letting it go; if it is a pleasant experience, to be able to live it by paying conscious attention to the sensations and integrating it into our mental continuum as something positive. This will allow us to gradually incorporate seeds related to pleasant and benevolent feelings towards ourselves, which we can then pass on to others.
Traumatic situations require a more specialized and cautious approach. The body stores emotional memory, and professional support is needed to release the accumulated pain. The experience is fragmented and we need to find the unity, the integration of what has been lived in our mental continuum.
We allow you to accept the experience without rejecting or judging it.
We open ourselves to it fully in an intimate connection, without keeping any distance, and in this step we merge with the experience as it is is.
If we go any further, we will realize how we have looked for a culprit for our anger, a target to aim at. If we stop and allow ourselves to openly “experience” these sensations, the emotion will unfold and dissipate, for it will find no resistance in us.
We let go of the concept of duality and integrate into unity. We are able to experience, let go, and transform ourselves. We begin to broaden our vision and deploy a more open and less conditioned mind. We take responsibility for our experiences and work with them to liberate you and transform you into opportunities for personal growth.
This step is what requires more training and awareness, and in turn is the most rewarding, as it allows us to learn and sublimate our painful experiences as they are.
These three steps show us how we learn to relate in an integral way.. What doors we open or close based on our fears, resistance or dependence. The freedom or the difficulty with which we move between them, gives us information about what we have to integrate or compensate.
We switch from one to the other depending on how open and confident we are in each situation and when we are emotionally. Opening requires a process in which we have identified our defenses and can transform them when we are ready.
Many psychopathological issues are linked by fixation on how we relate to our experiences and the ability to integrate, avoid, or seek them out. On a daily basis, it is interesting to observe how we select them. We mobilize a great deal of energy influenced by internal dynamics that lead us to contact some and reject others., And we’re not necessarily looking for the healthiest.
When we feel vulnerable we can reduce our experiential world to limited environments and without realizing it our space becomes smaller and more constrained. Sometimes we are drawn to people who immerse us in scenarios where we re-traumatize old unresolved wounds. We become silent victims again.
As we began to know and relate to ourselves better, out of affection, respect and strength, trust and friendship they will give way to the acceptance of this vulnerability which allows us to remain open to the experience of the world as it is.
Allowing ourselves to be present with our experience, to feel it directly and without filter, will reveal unknown facets to us and a fresher and renewed vision of ourselves. We become co-creators of our lives.