Lately I’ve noticed a repeating theme in conversation with friends… It seems that we all struggle with finding balance and understanding in what our relationships should give us. How much is fair to expect from a partner or friendship? How much should we be able to give ourselves? How do we know?
Wish I had the answer for you. I don’t. But, I do have a thought… When we talk about self-study, about knowing ourselves, there is a powerful nugget we easily overlook: what we notice in other people (whether through annoyance or admiration) is something that we already possess in ourselves. What we perceive is that which we are projecting out into the world. Whoa.
The first time I stumbled across this jewel, I thought of all those things that frustrate me with other people. In my previous career, I would spend hours complaining about clients that drove me nuts. To suddenly have the table flipped and the suggestion be that all those annoying habits are ones that I might (and do) possess was a pretty hard pill to swallow.
Ready for an even harder pill to swallow? How about those things we love about our friends and partners? Those qualities that we “need” in a relationship; that we expect our relationships to give us, yeah, we possess those qualities too.
So the question becomes, can we turn the mirror on ourselves and take a look at these qualities. Can we grow the traits we need (love, respect, trust) and can we soften around those we don’t (impatience, callousness, dishonesty)? I think our practice might allow us this chance. Being on our mats, breathing, it can helps us to grow our relationships with ourselves first. The practice encourages us to take responsibility for ourselves: to be safe in the physical practice, to witness the honest emotions that arise, to treat ourselves with kindness. Allowing this practice to spill into our lives off the mat might help us to be who we need to be inside and to move forward a bit more confidently with what we need in our relationships on the outside. What do you think?