Dear Reader: This blog post relates to lessons that are currently taking place as part of a course I’m teaching at Utah State University called Integrated Wellness. You are welcome to follow along and share any remarks or ask questions. I’d love to hear from you!
Personally, I feel that relationships are complicated—but I find them a bit less complicated since I started to realize that every relationship that I have with another person is a direct reflection of the relationship I have with myself. Is it still complicated? Yes. But I find it much easier to change the relationship I have with myself, rather than try to change everyone else in my life.
Here’s one example: Years ago, when I first began teaching Yoga at USU, I took it personally when students would arrive late, leave early, or act disengaged from what we were doing. Immediately, I started to put up a wall. I became insecure, defensive, and I assumed that any time anyone was laughing or talking during class, it was probably about me. As I endured the semester, I started to reconsider my desire to teach yoga to college students. Yet, when I received my teacher evaluations at the end of the semester, there was nothing but kind remarks and high ratings for the class. I was stunned.
Instead of reconsidering my position as a teacher, I started to reconsider my perception. The relationship I had with my students was flawed, because the relationship I had with myself was flawed. I had allowed my ego to make everything about me, and I had created an imaginary scenario around what I ‘thought’ my students were thinking. Rather than quit, I decided to work on the relationship I had with myself instead.
-Every time I felt that familiar burn of insecurity, I made a conscious effort to let it go.
-Whenever a student arrived late, I felt grateful that they came.
-Anytime two students were talking, I reminded myself that they have their own lives and their own stories to share….and they are most likely not about me.
-I held compassion for students who stopped coming to class, and made an effort to make sure they’re okay.
Every single person in your life is here to teach you something. Our relationships aren’t always here to make us happy—they’re here to make us more aware of the relationship we have with ourselves. Here are a few more things I’ve learned from my own relationships:
-If you feel like you’re being judged, it is because you are judging yourself.
-If you feel like you’re being treated unfairly, it is because you are not treating yourself fairly.
-If you feel like others don’t accept you for who you are, it is because you don’t accept yourself for who you are.
-If you feel like you are a victim, it is because you have made yourself out to be one.
Some of what we learn to see about ourselves isn’t easy to swallow, but isn’t it better to try to change the pattern from inside yourself, rather than try to change every single person in your life? It is empowering to know that the healing happens inside of you. And the very best part? When you heal the relationship you have with yourself, you will heal the relationships you have with others. It is the most profound transformation I have ever witnessed.
Pick one person or a certain quality within a relationship in your life that drives you crazy or causes turmoil in some way.
How does their behavior make you feel?
Based on your perception, how do they feel about you?
What do they do to support (or not support) you?
What do you think causes turmoil in your relationship?
Now, look back at your paragraph and pull out the qualities they display. Those qualities represent the framework for your work in healing the relationship with yourself and ultimately, with them.
Do they accept you? If not, what can you do to accept yourself?
Do they support you? If not, what can you do to support yourself?
Are they kind? If not, what can you do to be kind to yourself?
Are you blaming the other person? If so, seek out the quality or behavior, as it resides within you and bring it to your awareness—awareness of the behavior facilitates healing.
Are you willing to invite a new perception with regard to this person or situation?
Become consciously aware of these qualities and behaviors as they reside in you. Then, release what doesn’t serve you and build up the qualities that do. Then watch as your relationships begin to heal themselves—it all happens from the inside out.
More on this topic:
Next Week: Authenticity (Your imperfections are what make you perfectly you!)