(Good for any kind of relationship, be it personal or business!)
Reprinted from KAJAMA Online Journal of the Psyche
Mar 16 2011 10:38AM http://www.kajama.com
reprinted with permission
Your preferences, opinions, judgments, beliefs, and reactions to others are all part of your conditioning. As such, you are responsible for them in the sense that no one else caused them, although others do trigger them. Nevertheless, you didn't ask for that conditioning; for the most part, it was just given to you. You could say you inherited it from your family, experiences, culture, previous lifetimes, and astrology chart. It's your particular programming for this lifetime, and it is no better or worse than anyone else's conditioning, which they also inherited.
The problem is we assume that our conditioning is right and other people's (when it's different) is wrong. This unconscious assumption is what causes problems in relationships, not the conditioning itself. If we can allow others to be different from us, then conditioning doesn't have to be a problem. But we tend to judge others who do and see things differently than we do and try to change them. Our conditioning is bound to be different from someone else's; we're designed that way. So having different conditioning (i.e. beliefs, preferences, opinions, styles, ways of being) doesn't have to be a problem unless we make it one.
We tend to hold our conditioning as inviolate: We want what we want, we like what we like, we don't like what we don't like, and we believe what we believe. Our conditioning feels important, meaningful, and worth fighting for. That's where we get into trouble. Conditioning is just beliefs, preferences, and desires (which are just the thought I want with feelings attached to it). Conditioning comes from the ego, not from Essence. While the ego will fight with others over what it believes, likes, and wants, Essence chooses love over beliefs, preferences, and desires. If you want relationships to work, that's what you have to do as well. If even just one person in a relationship is willing to choose love over what he or she believes, prefers, or desires, a loving relationship is possible. If not, then the relationship will be a battleground over conditioning.
When your conditioning gets triggered in relationship, it's an opportunity to discover more about that conditioning. Feelings are a sign that your conditioning has been triggered: You feel angry or sad or some other negative emotion in relation to the other person. When that happens, the tendency is to say, You make me angry when... or You make me sad when... We think it's good mental hygiene to let others know how they are affecting us. We were taught to do this, but it isn't actually helpful. It puts the burden of change on the other person when it really lies with us.
If you feel angry or sad over something someone said or did, that's a sign that your conditioning is interfering with love. When feelings like these arise, there is a choice to be made between your conditioning or love: Is your conditioning more important than love, or is love more important than your conditioning? Most people fight for their conditioning because it feels like their conditioning is who they are: I'm someone who believes... or I'm someone who likes... Their identity is tied to their conditioned beliefs, and without their beliefs, it feels like they wouldn't be who they are. And they wouldn't be. They wouldn't be who they think they are; they would be who they really are: Essence.
Most people also deeply believe that they can change others and that it's their duty to do so because they believe their conditioning is superior. They choose trying to change others to fit their own conditioning over loving them. This choice leads to misery in relationships. No one wins the battle of conditioning. Everyone loses love. Even if you get the other person to change, at what expense is that accomplished? And at what point do you finally give up trying to mold the other person to your conditioning? The ego is never satisfied, and it always finds more improvements to push for in relationship as in every other aspect of life.
Relationships are meant to be a safe haven in the storm of life. They are our best chance for finding love and acceptance. They also serve as a laboratory for love: They are where we learn about love. What we learn is that only Essence knows how to love, not the ego. To create that safe haven, you have to move out of the ego and drop into Essence, where love is possible. Our desire for love and relationship motivates us to overcome our conditioning and live in Essence more because that's the only way it's possible to feel love and maintain it. We learn this by first trying to get our way in relationships and then finally surrendering to love. The secret of many couples who stay together for decades is that they accept each other. Each allows the other to be the way he or she is.
You might argue that acceptance enables your partner to continue his or her bad habits, when who could help him or her better than you? What is true in the realm of personal healing is also true in interpersonal healing: Acceptance is what heals. That is Essence's way. Acceptance is not the ego's way, but the ego isn't trying to help others as much as it's trying to get its way. If you really want to help someone, then accept that person and just see what miracles love and acceptance can perform. Here is an exercise for healing your relationships:
Exercise: Healing Relationships
Your job in relationships is not to change others, but to release any ideas that keep you from being loving and accepting. To do that, notice when feelings are triggered, and then give curiosity, acceptance, and attention to those feelings until you discover what beliefs are behind them. Then examine how true each of those beliefs are. You will find that none of your beliefs are true, at least not true enough to warrant withholding love from another. All of your beliefs are just conditioning.
Copyright 2007 Gina Lake. All rights reserved. From Getting Free: How to Move Beyond Conditioning and Be Happy by Gina Lake. Gina Lake is a spiritual teacher who is devoted to helping others live in the moment through her books, counseling, and intensives. She has a master's degree in counseling psychology and over twenty years of experience as a spiritual counselor. Her books include Loving in the Moment, Radical Happiness, Embracing the Now, Anatomy of Desire, Return to Essence, What About Now? Living in the Now, and Getting Free. Her website, radicalhappiness.com, offers information about her books and consultations, free e-books, book excerpts, a free monthly newsletter, a blog, and audio and video recordings.
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