PRACTICAL WISDOM
By James Westly

Spirituality and Relationships

By James Westly


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When we consider the life path we each follow to be one of spiritual development, and that everything contained in that experience to be a part of our spiritual development, then we must encounter the realization that our relationships too are a part of that development, whether or not we are aware of it, or acknowledge it.

The ability to sustain a living relationship, such as a marriage or a partnership, is one of the most difficult processes we can undertake. We immediately come up against our automatic tendencies of relating to reality. Once we have a history with our relationship, for instance, we tend to relate from that history, rather than from the perceived truth-of-the-moment. We begin to think we "know" how the other person will respond to particular events and we react from that knowing, rather than from our in- the-moment perceptions of the other person. So, through the relationship we discover our level of inability to live in the present moment.

Then there's the issue of disempowerment. We all have some level at which we give our personal power away to another person. It's a common human event. We give our power away to people from whom we want something. We want love, acceptance and respect, and we are willing, to some degree, to give away our self-love, self- acceptance and self-respect in order to receive these energies from other people. This makes disempowerment a huge issue in an intimate relationship, for it is from our significant other that we most desire to receive these emanations, and it is to them that we tend most to give away ourselves. This forms the basis for what psychology currently calls co-dependency.

Thus we are constantly striving to find out what it is that our relationship wants in order to please them, and receive their love and respect. In the process what we want or need may be eclipsed, leaving us with a behavioral facade designed to please the other and driven by our need for their acceptance, but containing nothing of who we really are.

Work on this from a spiritual perspective requires that we first see the process. Each one of us is caught in a level of lack-of-self-love and is endeavoring to fill that emptiness with love manipulated from the other person. We need to acknowledge the existence of our lack-of-self-love, then begin to connect to a direct expression of our own needs and wants. This is not easy, since we have spent most of our lives working to please others and may have little knowledge of what our inner life requires.

When we are clear and honest with ourselves about how we feel, and are able to express our feelings in a constructive way, we will be communicating as empowered beings who are able to satisfy our needs ourselves. Then we learn to negotiate in our relationships, rather than manipulate.

Even from this brief exposition we begin to see that doing spiritual work in a relationship is a huge undertaking. The ways we have of dealing with each other are habitual and we are addicted to them. To even see the habits can be a major shift in our lives. Then, it is not often the case that each member of the relationship is inclined to see in this way. If one awakens to a different reality, the other may not wish to see in this way nor make any efforts to create change. Then the work begins in earnest.


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