How to “Mindfully” Approach Romantic Relationships -Intro
“In Love” – Artwork by Steve K
All knowledge begins with self-knowledge.
As a teacher of mindful living and self-awareness, there isn’t a day that passes that I don’t come across articles online about love and relationships. It’s a very popular topic, because the most pervasive fear in the world today, is the fear of becoming irrelevant. And how do we feel relevant? Relationships!!!
Articles on “relationships” are especially prevalent on curated websites, where each author reflects upon what they’ve learned from the demise of their most recent romantic relationship and the postmortem emotional trauma that occurs following the break-up. They outline for the reader the “signs they ignored,” the “red flags,” the “narcissistic behaviors” of their past lover, and how they’ve become victimized by the conflicts, the pitfalls, and the landmines they missed in their relationships, which is of course, always with an “emotionally unavailable” lover. They hope to inspire other bereft lovers, who like them, have also had what they thought was the ultimate truth, their perfect soulmate, their twin-soul, stripped away from them.
With empathetic words of support encouraging the downtrodden reader to press on in spite of their grief, the author’s words are like an elixir to the reader’s broken heart and salve to their incurred wounds, resonating with the reader who can so relate to the shared pain and experiences of the writer. In writing about what feels like a Shakespearian Tragedy, the authors of these types of articles write with the intent that others can glean wisdom from their experiences and perhaps avoid the hassle and the broken heart that they themselves were forced to endure and recover from.
If only our lives could play out like a Walt Disney fairy tale, where to the sound of beautiful orchestral music and birds chirping, we ride off into the sunset of eternal bliss with the prince or princess of our dreams and live happily ever after.
Insert a collective sigh from the audience here for full effect . . .
Offering a road map of sorts to use in navigating the reader’s next romantic encounter, those writing about romantic relationships extol the virtues and characteristics of “healthy relationships,” and the usual, mandatory “quid pro quo” and “rules of engagement” necessary in the exchange of human emotions within the unquestioned framework everyone has been taught to approach romance from. They expound upon the mutual understanding, the obligatory respect lovers must display and practice, and the agreed upon boundaries that lovers must adhere to and protect if they are to continue adoring each other and fawning all over each other within the context of their romantic relationships in order to maintain the endorphin rush we find so delicious and addicting.
This, of course, is a type of pathological and unexamined thinking we’ve been imbued with since our first viewing of Snow White, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, Sleeping Beauty, or “fill in the blank” with the romantic animation of your choice.
Sadly, articles written on the subject of love and relationships only highlight a symptomatic overview of human nature, predicated in endless searching, neediness, and a yearning to find someone, ANYONE to love us, in order to fill the perceived void, we feel within ourselves.
Unfortunately, these articles never address the real issue – the emptiness that lies within each of us and what causes it.
This is a persistent longing that society propagates by cultivating a constant outward focus in our search for love and happiness. And here is where the masses remain trapped, because the bulk of society has been inculcated with constant messaging that teaches us that happiness is “out there,” which means we fail to find it within ourselves. Thus, the endless search to find happiness by importing our sense of happiness, love, relevance, and well-being from others. Because of this outward focus, the most fundamental understanding of our true nature, the essence of what we truly are, remains elusive and enshrouded in darkness. This is why so few take the inward journey that the mystics and greatest teachers of the past advocate as the path to finding true bliss and self-acceptance within ourselves. “In there” is where all our past wounds and unresolved trapped emotions hide in our sub-conscious but still exert tremendous influence over our current choices. Resolving and healing these wounds and truly developing self-acceptance, means we have love to give. Love is no longer an external pursuit, nor is it something we “find” with another. We discover LOVE is what we ARE
So why don’t we take this inward journey?
Well, fundamentally it takes courage, and who isn’t afraid to journey into the darkness and confront the traumas from our past, when the darkness only cultivates our worst fears and insecurities of not being likable, lovable or “good enough”?
In dealing with these beliefs, or perhaps better said, in failing to deal with these beliefs about ourselves that lie just beneath the surface, most of us choose the path of least resistance, looking outside ourselves to others and to the marketplace, with the hope they can fill the void we feel inside of us.
Why? Because until we rise above the level of our karma, we live through compulsion, competition, and comparison. With “desirable social appeal” and what’s considered “en vogue,” promoted as a constantly moving target, we keep shopping and shopping and shopping to stay current in our social acceptability!!! After all, we’re ALL marketing platforms, and what are we marketing? Ourselves…
Shopping and consumerism, endlessly promoted as the “prescription” for everything, has truly become the opiate of our times. Oh, so satisfying, albeit fleeting, is the endorphin rush that comes with a new purchase.
Arguably, the most prevalent means available in first world countries to infuse our lives with a dose of happiness with, is through the acquisition of material possessions. We use shopping to distract and anesthetize ourselves from the constant barrage of thoughts and feelings of inadequacy that are so prevalent in individuals who’ve been taught to live life as a endless competition and comparison to others. We shop for status symbols to place in our driveway, to drape ourselves in, and name brand logos to define our social status with. Today, we even shop for people . . . no different than the way we shop for the products we buy to make ourselves happy. Romance is sooooo, the ultimate endorphin rush!!! “Falling in Love” is seen as the “cure all” for all our emotional emptiness. So we hope, we pray, we shop, and endlessly seek someone to fall in love with.
Instead of meeting people organically through social interaction, we now have dating apps that reduce initiating human contact down to the arbitrary task of swiping left or right. Countless dating websites now provide an array of platforms where we can market ourselves just like the products we buy and seek romantic relationships out like taking a trip to the mall. With these apps, we can “shop” for relationships to our heart’s content, in a way that’s no different than going to Amazon.com to shop for an item. We “shop” for relationships that we can import a sense of relevancy from, to make us feel “good enough.” It’s absolutely no different than the endorphin rush we get when purchasing clothes, or a purse, or a car. And if a relationship ends? Hey! That’s okay! There’s Plenty of Fish (also an app) in the Sea. Just go phishing!!!
It is from this premise most people sheepishly venture out into the world.
In a society that bombards us with media images that breed insecurity and feelings of inadequacy; confidence is sold to us as purchased products that make us feel “adequate,” at least for a while. Feeling this profound sense of inadequacy, we have a tendency to cling to others for security, even if the security itself is only a narrative we’ve created in our head about our lovers. Slicing through the thin veneer of most relationships, we find, that tragically most relationships are built on the wrong foundation – CODEPENDENCY masquerading as storybook LOVE, just like in the fairytales we grew up with. But alas, this bliss can never last, and when the love drug wears off, that’s when problems arise, tensions develop in the relationship, and if it ends, we collapse in on ourselves and return to our default appraisal of ourselves . . . feeling inadequate, lonely, and unlovable.
This is why most lovers are like two beggars treating each other like emperors, only to find out, that without the other, they are emotionally bankrupt and lack the strength to hold themselves in even the most meager regard as something beautiful and unique in all of creation.
Simply put, “THE QUALITY OF ANY EXTERNAL RELATIONSHIPS WE HAVE IS BASED ENTIRELY ON THE QUALITY OF THE RELATIONSHIP WE’RE HAVING WITH OURSELVES, WITHIN OURSELVES, WHICH IN FACT, IS THE ONLY RELATIONSHIP WE ARE EVER HAVING.”
More to come . . .
Love and Light to you in your continued Journey of Self-Discovery.