Let’s get this out of the way first. This post isn’t a prescription for how to build or mend relationships. It isn’t about how to find the right man or woman. Nor is it about what’s wrong or right in the relationships people have. I believe that at the core relationships are about connection. So this post is about finding what connects and resonates with you in relationships professional, familial, and otherwise. So if something in it doesn’t resonate with you, don’t worry—you do not have to take me at my word.
Whoa, now that we got that cleared let’s begin. I believe that the best relationships aren’t rooted in the interaction we have with others but in the interaction we have with ourselves. If our inner relationship with ourselves is strong, our outside relationships with others will mold to fit likewise.
So, what does a strong inner relationship with yourself look like? The first thing that should come to mind is that you are at peace with yourself in all your imperfections. When you look in the mirror you have a sense that you, in all your glory and in all your flaws, are enough for yourself. You have to come to an understanding that no one outside of you can give you the compassion, admiration, respect and love that you desire. No one can fulfill your longing for adventure, connection and acceptance—at least not in a meaningful way.
Yes, the people in your life can help you feel those qualities or help you to realize those attributes within you but they cannot substitute you. If for one reason or another that relationship passes or the person you are experiencing it with leaves this life, it can leave a deep sense of emptiness within you if you are not strongly rooted in yourself.
And if we are to be fully transparent with ourselves, we realize also that this dynamic not only applies to relationships with family and friends but also with co-workers, business partners, coaches and others. Consciously or unconsciously, many times we will seek the sense of gratification, acceptance and love from our peers, our bosses and wherever we can get it. That is why we can get disappointed or hurt in our occupations, hobbies and other activities where we are engaged with others.
An inner self-rooted individual doesn’t seek new friends or coworkers who appreciate them. An inner self-rooted individual feels a sense of wholesomeness alone and with others. They live their lives and they seek new experiences to enrich themselves. They don’t live for the company or acceptance of others. However, most often what happens is when you are living rooted in your life you find that the right people gravitate towards you without effort. And when those people do, you are able to be fully present because you are not seeking some validation of who you are from them but instead are learning from them and consciously appreciating the other person in the conversation. You will naturally feel strong and confident because you are self-aware.
This doesn’t mean that all of the sudden you become an enlightened individual without a care for the feelings or thoughts of others. It doesn’t mean either that you won’t find yourself at times behaving in an attention-seeking way. But what it does mean is that you are able to actively become aware of when you are slipping from your root and become centered again.
I think one of the best things I ever realized is that all the people we rub shoulders with have the same experiences, needs, and wants as us. With this realization, I began to understand that we ought not to be so harsh on ourselves or others. The best thing we can do in relationships is to realize that we are all humans alike walking this collective path called life together with all its ups and downs and then to fully be accepting of where the people we encounter are along this path.
Another one of the biggest pitfalls we face professionally and personally is that we try too hard to change the people in our lives to conform to our notion of where, who or what we think they ought to be and most often times our efforts are met with resistance. The reason our efforts can be met with resistance is that no one can be forced to accept something that they are not ready to. They get defensive and the relationship can take a sour turn.
The highest contribution we can bring to another person in a relationship is to be compassionate and understanding of the current stage of self-awareness a person is in and to be supportive of that journey. There is no greater validation that you can give to another than to let them know that whoever they are and wherever they are that they are enough for the moment they’re in.
This can get tricky if we see people we care about going down a self-destructive path such as addictions be it to material things, substances, toxic relationships, or life-threatening risk-taking. What we should seek to understand in these situations is that the person is seeking something they have not yet learned to find within themselves and that at the core you and they seek the same thing. And then the next step, if you are going to try to help them, is to help them from a place of non-judgement and acceptance of them as an individual and not to come from an intention that you are trying to make them better but that you are instead helping them to realize the wholesomeness already present within them.
To the novice getting exposed to this idea, the notion that just coming from an intention of acceptance and non-judgement can be a vehicle for helping those we care about transform into the better version of themselves may sound overly simplistic. But what I cannot emphasize enough is that the intention with which we approach anyone or anything is a supremely powerful idea. As intuitive beings, we pick up—consciously and unconsciously—on the intentions of others. That is why we can get an amazing vibe or a gut-wrenching negative feeling from someone even if they are saying the right things. Call it body language, voice tone, or intuition but the fact of the matter is we are on a primal level wired to sense who is an enemy or a friend and what is a threat or not a bother. It is part of our biology as human beings and that is why the intention with which you interact with others is so important. If someone vibes from you that you are a friend then they can be open to you and perhaps change. But if they feel judged, the fight or flight mechanism kicks in and they become defensive.
The assimilation of this understanding within us can have applications not just in extreme situations but in our everyday relationships with family, friends, lovers and coworkers. When 1) you accept all yourself—the good and the bad—and 2) you are accepting of everyone’s current level in their self-awareness journey then you begin to approach every relationship and situation from a healthy place. You begin to find that you are not easily fazed by what is going on at work, at home, and with your friends. You gain a sense of self-awareness that allows you to realize when you are merely reacting to outside stimuli or acting on your own internal stimulus.
It is not an easy thing for many of us to get to this place. But there is one thing that I can say helps, if only from my own personal experience, and it is that you have to let go of the notion that you are supposed to feel a certain way. Instead, you have to realize that part of completely accepting and not judging yourself is acknowledging that it is okay to have the thoughts and feelings you have—both good and bad—and to not resist them. That saying that what you resist persists is true after all. Once you surrender to yourself, you become liberated to become who you are and who you can be.
The moment this occurs, when the good feelings and thoughts come you enjoy them and when the bad do you accept and just observe them. The really neat thing I have discovered about this is that it produces an almost perpetual state of harmony within yourself where when you feel negative it’s fleeting—because you immediately become aware of it and healthily process it by accepting it and then letting it go—and when the good comes you enter only what I can akin to as a state of bliss.
When you approach relationships from this state, you are able to create more meaningful connections with the people in your life because you are coming from a place of wholesomeness and not lack or neediness. And so I challenge you to make your top-priority relationship the one with yourself. If you get that one relationship strong and become rooted in it, your relationships with others will naturally fall into place.