Being Relationally Brave
Updated: Mar 9, 2020
NOTE: This blog post applies to all relationships whether they be platonic friendships, familial, romantic, or otherwise. It also applies to those in monogamous, open, and polyamorous styles of relating.
Relationships are hard, they’re beautiful and messy… and they’re the birthplace of healing our hearts, minds, and spirits.
Engaging With Your Experience
When you enter into a new romantic or platonic relationship, it’s magical, and you usually get a glimpse of what your whole authentic nature looks and feels like. Being authentic means that you come from a real place within yourself instead of an imitation of what you think you should be or what you’ve been told you should be. It’s when your actions and words are congruent with your beliefs and values. At the same time, when you open to others, it brings to the surface all kinds of conditioned patterns, wounds, worst fears, mistrust, the rawest emotional triggers – all of which really tend to shut your open connection down. As relationships develop, you might often find yourself feeling fragmented as if you don’t have full access to your whole self. This is because you’ve been operating from these conditioned patterns and wounds.
With this in mind, it’s helpful to understand that your emotional and psychological pain is relational in nature. These relational patterns formed in your earliest relationships. As a result, your ego’s patterns developed protections around it to help protect you from the potential pain being vulnerable and open opens you to. In relationships, the ego acts as a survival mechanism for getting your needs met while fending off the threat and possibility of being hurt, rejected, and/or abandoned in ways you were as a child. Without slowing down, looking within, and making the necessary changes you need to, you might find yourself locked into complex strategies of defensiveness that undermine your possibility of a deeper connection with others.
If you want to become more of your whole self, your true essence in any relationship, you must refine your conditioned patterns. When you’re able to face your conditioned patterns, to actually discover your own experience, and to be with and allow for integration of all parts of yourself, then you can give birth to a whole new way of being in relationship to yourself and others. This takes constant personal reflection, opening, and extending yourself completely to the situation that’s available to you. So really engage with your experience… exploring all directions of what’s happening to you. How can you do this?
Being Emotionally Honest
You can do this by first being emotionally honest with yourself. Emotions are vital to the human experience. They help guide you through your personal circumstances, your moods, and your relationships. Emotions come up for a reason and that reason is that they are attempting to communicate something to you. Emotions are unconscious material that want to be heard, by you. Ignoring or repressing these emotions will lead to acting out, a form of reactive unconscious behavior. Often times this acting out is aimed at a romantic partner, family member, best friend, etc.
To be emotionally honest means for you to admit that you are indeed feeling something. This must begin with emotional awareness. This awareness brings on the observing function of the psyche. To be an observer of an emotion means to notice the emotion without becoming overwhelmed by the emotion itself and without judging the emotion. Your feeling is neither bad nor good, it just simply is there to give you insight into what pattern might be being enacted in that moment. The first step into feeling fulfilled in your relationships is to become aware of yourself and how you are feeling and begin to get curious about why things come up for you and when. Once you can become aware of these emotions, it’s time to really experience them. Be careful to not focus on a relationship as an emotional “fix” because that actually destroys the possibility of finding deep connection with another.
Being Emotionally Honest with The Other
Just like you need to be emotional honestly with yourself, you too need to be emotionally honest with the other. To be emotionally honest with another person means to communicate your emotions to them when they come up in the moment and experience them with the other person. If you’re mad, feel it and share it with them. If you’re sad, feel it and share it them. If you’re over joyed, feel it and share it with them. If you’re feeling jealous, feel it and share it with them. Be willing to be emotionally vulnerable with another so that you can move into an emotionally authentic relationship. This will help both of you feel more connected with each other and will allow for more passion and curiosity within the relational dynamic. This will also help you to squash any relational projections you might be caught in.
What is projection? According to Eckhart Tolle, projection is “The particular egoic patterns that you react to most strongly in others and misperceive as their identity tend to be the same patterns that are also in you, but that you are unable or unwilling to detect within yourself.” Do you find yourself getting into relationships thinking, “oh not this again” or “why do they always do this?” Having a tendency to focus on the behaviors of others and to always locate these behaviors outside of yourself is projection. These behaviors, in fact, are exactly what you don’t like about yourself. You know when you’re projecting when you blame your the other person for what you are wishing, thinking, and feeling. You also know you’re projecting when you assume the other person feels the exact same way you do without even asking them about it or you assume that they will do things in the same way you are doing. For example, let’s say you are attracted to someone outside of your primary romantic relationship that you haven’t admitted to your partner. Then you accuse your partner of being unfaithful. Really, the desire to be with others lies within you but instead you see it in your partner. Another example is when you keep important emotional information from your partner because you already know how they will respond. Yet another example is when you find yourself saying things like, “Do you want to hear my story? Oh never-mind you probably don’t” before your partner even gets to answer. Any time you disown parts of yourself, you risk hurting yourself and your partner.
As you begin to experience more of yourself, it might be very painful. You might discover parts of yourself that you don’t like. Parts that are hard for you to admit are a part of you. It might be really difficult to admit you are having feelings and it might be really difficult to open yourself to vulnerability that allows you to communicate all of this to the other person. Continue to love yourself. These parts are coming up to be noticed, supported, loved, and healed.
Intimate relationships are portals to emotional healing. To grow emotionally through intimate relationships, you must be willing to dismantle yourself… to let your old ego structures fall apart… before you can begin to embody your whole authentic self, which really is eternal love. The ego is a powerful tool in your transformation, you should make friends with it and support it as much as possible, instead of attempting to make it go away. As your ego becomes engulfed by love from yourself and from others, your authentic, true whole self will begin to emerge.
To be relationally brave means for you to allow for deep transformation through reminding yourself to keep waking up, to keep expanding your sense of who you are, to uncover and press into your edges, to confront your own existence, to stay curious about yourself and other people and to really learn to work with all the different elements of yourself.
Be. Brave dear ones!